Martin Luther King Day honors civil rights hero

This week, scores of people gathered around the country to honor one of America’s best known civil rights heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
CLEWISTON – Rev. Gwendolyn Patrick was the grand marshal of the Clewiston Martin Luther King Day Parade in Clewiston.

Dr. King was a man who was committed to social justice, a champion for equal rights, a hero who encouraged community action through non-violent protests. “Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another,” is one of Dr. King’s many profound quotes.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
CLEWISTON – Senful Sweets was chosen as Business of the Year. Owner and baker, Tobi Allen-Johnson, was honored in the parade.

In Clewiston, the Harlem MLK Scholarship Committee, Inc. organized the Annual Martin Luther King Day celebration on Saturday, Jan. 18. The parade grand marshal was Rev. Gwendolyn Patrick, and parade honorees included Senful Sweets and owner/baker Tobi Allen-Johnson, as Business of the Year, as well as Frank and Helen Bailey and family as the Family of the Year.

The Harlem MLK Scholarship Committee is a 501c3 non profit organization. A committee of volunteers host different events throughout the year to raise funding for scholarships given to high school seniors.‪ On Sunday, Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. the organization will host their Scholarship Service at The Greater Friendship Baptist Church awarding the selected recipients.‬

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
CLEWISTON – Martin Luther King Day Parade honorees, Frank and Helen Bailey and their family were chosen as Family of the Year.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is often best remembered for having led the March on Washington in 1963, where he delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

During LaBelle’s Annual MLK Day parade, held on the morning of Jan. 20, 2020, a recording of King’s profound and poignant “I Have a Dream” speech was played over loud speakers, as Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden upheld tradition of being LaBelle’s MLK Day parade leader. The parade route ended at the community center, as the marchers gathered to remember Dr. King. Community leaders of all ages and backgrounds stood up and spoke to the crowd.

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika Hopper
LABELLE – The LaBelle MLK Day Parade was led by Sheriff Steve Whidden.

“I think the good thing about LaBelle is everybody I see marching here, from all different backgrounds, all different races, all different languages, it could be such a great example for the nation,” said Laura Germino, human rights advocate and co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Lake Okeechobee News/Danika Hopper
LABELLE – Volunteers Melvin Thomas, Willie Thomas, and Sincere Bradford grilled up juicy burgers for the hungry marchers after the LaBelle MLK Day parade.

“I plan to do as much as I can to help bring this community to where I can be. I plan to focus on our children, because they are our future,” said Shywona Ford, Sunset Park Community’s newly appointed president.

Others took turns speaking, urging everyone to do what they can to better themselves and the community, to make good choices, and to make an effort to help one another. As Dr. King once said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

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