The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on each year as communities nationwide celebrate the birth of the civil rights leader with parades, community service days and reflections on his message of non-violence.
The official holiday honoring King will be Jan. 18.
In Pasco County, celebrations will be take place throughout the week, including a first-time parade in Lacoochee on the official holiday.
The parade came at the suggestion of the young people in the Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee, said Lorenzo Coffie, who is helping organize the parade and a scholarship breakfast for the MLK Program Committee.
“We thought it was an exciting idea,” Coffie said.
Area colleges and civic groups also are planning events.
Pasco-Hernando State College will host the 31st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture Series on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, on its various campuses around the county.
The guest speaker will be Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of black popular culture in African-American Studies at Duke University in North Carolina and director of the Institute of Critical US Studies.
The theme of Neal’s lectures will be “Hip Hop, Civil Rights and Social Media.”
King’s legacy is in civil rights, but also social justice, and this year’s theme focuses on the synergy between the two, said Imani Asukile, director of Global & Multicultural Awareness at PHSC.
Neal also brings expertise in social media and its cultural influences. His articles have been published in the Washington Post, Emerge Magazine and The Chicago Sun-Times.
He is author of four books, including his most recent, “New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity.”
Neal has described himself as a black feminist male.
At Saint Leo University, there will be a Spring Community Service Day on Jan. 18.
Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince will be the guest speaker at noon in the Student Community Center boardroom, discussing King’s efforts to end childhood poverty.
Quince became the first African-American woman appointed to a state appeals court when she was selected to serve on the Second Court of Appeal in 1993. She was elected to the position three years later.
Gov. Lawton Chiles and Gov.-elect Jeb Bush appointed her to the Florida Supreme Court in 1998. She served as chief justice from 2008 to 2010, making her the second African-American and third woman to hold the position.
Following her talk, a free children’s fair will be on campus. There will be face painting, sand art and several inflatables. Faculty, students and student clubs will host the activities.
In Lacoochee, the Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, local churches, schools, area businesses and the MLK Program Committee plan two days of activities.
On Jan. 16, a Scholarship Breakfast program will take place at the Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee. Donations of $10 for adults and $5 for students are requested. The funds will provide scholarships to area high school students.
On Jan. 18, a parade will be held, followed by a program at the Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee, with the Rev. Deundrick Reed as keynote speaker.
The MLK Program Committee enlists different hosts each year for festivities. Coffie said the committee members appreciate the enthusiasm of the youth at the Boys & Girls Club who wanted to stage a parade.
Pasco County Sheriff’s Cpl. Jessica Hammond, known as Officer Friendly, also encouraged the parade, he said.
The theme is “The Dream: One Nation Under God.”
“(Dr.) King was a reverend. That was his forte,” said Coffie. “His ministry was based on nonviolence and equality for all.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations:
Activities at Pasco-Hernando State College
Who: Guest lecturer Mark Anthony Neal, professor of black popular culture in African-American Studies at Duke University
What: Lecture on “Hip Hop, Civil Rights and Social Media”
When: Jan. 20 at 10 a.m., in Room B-303, Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, 2727 Mansfield Road, Wesley Chapel and at 6 p.m. in Room A-240, East Campus, 36727 Blanton Road, Dade City.
Neal also will speak on Jan. 21 at 9:45 a.m., via web telecast in B-104/105, North Campus, 11415 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Brooksville; at 9:45 a.m., in Performing Arts Center, West Campus, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey, and at 7 p.m., in Room B-105, Spring Hill Campus, 450 Beverly Court, Spring Hill
Activities at Saint Leo University
What: Speech by Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince
Where: Student Community Center boardroom
When: Jan. 18 at noon
What: Children’s fair
When: Jan. 18, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., on the green between the Student Activities Building and Kirk Hall.
Saint Leo University is at 33701 State Road 52, four miles east of Interstate 75.
MLK Program Committee Activities
What: Scholarship Breakfast Program
When: Jan. 16, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., at the Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee, 38724 Mudcat Grant Blvd., in Lacoochee.
How much: Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for students
When: Jan. 18 at 9 a.m.
Where: Starting in Lacoochee at Cummer Road and U.S. 301, ending at Boys & Girls Club of Lacoochee. After the parade, there will be a MLK Commemorative Program at 11 a.m., at the boys and girls club, where the Rev. Deundrick Reed will be the keynote speaker. There will be refreshments at Stanley Park after the program.
Published January 13, 2016