Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At Tampa MLK parade, past celebrates present

TAMPA — For 17 years, thousands of paradegoers lined Tampa streets to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and be reminded of the legacy he left on their shoulders.

But Monday, marking the 18th year of Tampa's annual parade, that weight seemed to be lifted by another man, President-elect Obama, who will be inaugurated today.

"I had a dream," said words printed on a float that wheeled down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. "Now my dream has been fulfilled."

On T-shirts, posters, floats and vehicles, images of King and Obama shared space, one representing the past, another the future of civil rights.

County commissioners tossed beads. Middleton High School's marching band wore mustard capes and tall hats.

Hillsborough County trucks carried DJs and emcees reminding the crowd of the man they came to remember.

It was the same as any year except that everything seemed sharper, said Nathaniel Washington, who has attended several King parades in his 38 years living in Tampa.

"This one's a little bit better," he said, "just by the way the kids are performing.

"It has everything to do with what's going on tomorrow."

While Monday was a federal holiday it felt more like Christmas Eve to most in the crowd who said they couldn't wait until today.

Tish Hankerson, 29, who attended the parade with her daughter, Brazyl Hicks, 8, planned to pull the child out of school to bake cookies and watch the inauguration.

Blannie Whelan, 56, attended the parade as well, wearing a pink T-shirt with King, Obama and the words, "Maybe this is the Dream" on it. She planned to remove her grandchildren, Jake Scott, 7, and Justin Scott, 5, from school for today's inauguration.

Hankerson is black. Whelan is white.

"It's a historic event," Whelan said. "Something I've dreamed of my entire life."

Mayor Pam Iorio took note of the jubilant atmosphere. Prior MLK celebrations left her with the feeling, "Yes, we can make progress, but we have to overcome obstacles." Monday told her loud and clear that progress has arrived, she said.

Not far from her, a float rebroadcast words from King's monumental "I have a dream" speech. Next to it, another blared Kool & the Gang's Celebration.

Justin George can be reached at or (813) 226-3368.

At Tampa MLK parade, past celebrates present 01/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 11:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger


    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

     Philanthropist Roy Hardy, shown here in 2007, stirs up the baked beans at a Kiwanis club charity fish fry. Mr. Hardy died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.

  2. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando


    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  3. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  4. Feeling mental fatigue after Hurricane Irma and other disasters? It's real.


    TAMPA — Blackness. Eyes closed or open, the same.

    A Tampa Bay Times reporter in a sensory deprivation tank used for floating therapy at Sacred Floats & Gems Co. located at 6719 N Nebraska Avenue, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Floating therapy relaxes people because they experience a sense of zero gravity when they are inside the tank, which contains 150 gallons of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salt. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  5. Trump vows more sanctions on North Korea


    President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to impose more sanctions on North Korea as he prepared to meet with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to seek a common strategy in confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in New York described as "the sound of a dog barking" Trump's threat to destroy his country. [Associated Press]