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King's memory honored in Pasco County

PORT RICHEY — Under a clear blue sky, behind the tiny white church, Hazel Quarterman told of darker days.

Quarterman, 81, remembers ordering her food from restaurants' back windows while white customers streamed through the front door. Or having to stand on the train every Christmas on the way from her home in the Bronx to visit her mother in Marion, S.C., sometimes for the whole ride.

She remembers what it's like to feel invisible.

On Monday morning, she stood with almost 100 other civil rights supporters at the Union Missionary Baptist Church as the Rev. Ron Smart rallied them for a short march down Pine Hill Road to the African American Club of Pasco building for the annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

In rows of four, they linked arms and marched in song: "We shall overcome."

The marchers took up almost every inch of space in the 96-year-old building that was once the Booker T. Washington School for black children.

In the same room where his great-grandmother took classes in the 1930s because she couldn't go to school with white children, Marlow Jones, 21, took the stage as master of ceremonies. Motivational speeches, choir hymns and award presentations filled the afternoon, all with a message to continue King's dream.

After the closing prayer, Quarterman emerged hopeful.

"We have to keep it going," she said. "That's the only way."

King's memory honored in Pasco County 01/16/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 9:16pm]
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