Sarasota began its commemoration for Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, Jan. 15 at Temple Emanu-El and continued on Monday, Jan. 16 at Robert L. Taylor Community Center.
The temple hosted its seventh interfaith tribute to King after missing 2021 and 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This event featured performances by Soul Sensations, Light of the World Men’s Ensemble and local clergyman Rev. Charles McKenzie reciting the words of King’s speeches and writings.
“Today we take our place once again in the important history in the Jewish and Black communities coming together as we have for generations,” Rabbi Michael Shefrin said. “I pray that it never stops.”
The Sarasota MLK Celebration Committee hosted its 2023 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast and Community Awards on Monday at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex.
“The Committee is always excited to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy with the Sarasota community,” Sarasota MLK Celebration Committee President Jetson Grimes said. “Each year, we pay homage to his dream when we gather together in honor of his great works and recognize the achievements accomplished by people and businesses in our community.”
Sandra Kay Daniels, a teacher at Booker Middle; Gregory Rumph, an assistant principal at Booker High; Rex Troche, Sarasota's chief of police, James Hill and Renee Gilmore of ABC-7 and Jaida Cunningham, a senior student at Riverview High, were honored during the breakfast.
The Unity and Historical walk to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park was led by Booker High School's JROTC. The march followed after the Memorial Breakfast and Community Awards ceremony.
Booker High’s cheerleaders followed behind along with the school’s marching band and Second Chance Last Opportunity.
“This is important because Martin Luther King Jr. has made an impact for all. I’m honored for what he did and accomplished,” said Sarasota High School student Zionna Gamble who passed out candy during the march.
Newtown neighbors watched and cheered the marchers from their front porches.
“I was 7 years old when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. I can remember when my mother and grandmother watching television – we had a black and white box television – they had all the kids sit down and listen as we watched live,” said marcher Velvet Sumpter. “To watch that on television happen and then to see the marches my mother always had on television--it's always been a part of our history, what we overcome and what we are still dealing with. It’s not over. We are still fighting. We are still marching. We are still asking for equality.”