Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lack of Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Hernando a failure by community

Really, how hard is it to organize a parade?

You get permission from the local government. You contact groups and businesses that might be interested in sponsoring a float. Maybe you canvas the neighborhoods along the route, just to let folks know a parade is coming and they'll have a little trouble getting out of their driveways for a couple of hours.

It's a little harder now that the city of Brooksville is charging for police officers to control traffic.

But it's far from impossible.

The Brooksville Kiwanis Club, sponsors of the city's annual Christmas Parade, has managed to pull it off for 37 straight years.

For more than two decades, the other traditional parade in Brooksville was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Not this year.

Nor, for the first time in recent history, will there be a picnic that day. The only event honoring King this weekend, an ecumenical service at Grace World Outreach Church, will be held at 3:30 p.m. today.

The Shiloh Problem Solvers just couldn't get any support for a parade or picnic, said founder Clarence Clark.

Starting a month ago, he sent out emails and fliers to businesses, churches and nonprofit groups, including the NAACP. Nobody got back to him, he said, probably because he requested $25 for groups to walk and $45 if they wanted to enter a float.

Shiloh needed the money, he said, because the city's new traffic control fees and the county's charge to hold the picnic at Kennedy Park were expected to bring the cost of the event to more than $600.

Paul Douglas, outgoing president of the local NAACP, said Clark did indeed contact him and the organization's board approved $45 for a float. Then he waited to hear back from Shiloh, he said, and never did.

Really, deciding which leader and which organization is more to blame is not the main issue. It's the general lack of commitment to preserving King's legacy.

Neither Douglas nor anyone else from the NAACP, apparently, cared enough to follow up with Shiloh to see what was up with the parade plans. Clark didn't call those churches and businesses to see why they hadn't responded. And, of course, these churches and businesses had already demonstrated their apathy by not responding in the first place.

And it's all a shame. Shameful, even.

I remember the work that went into the early parades, which followed a route from South Brooksville to the city's historic courthouse. The national holiday had only been observed since 1986 and some white people in town still referred to it with a racial slur.

Letting this tradition die is disservice to the people who established it in Brooksville. It's a greater disservice, of course, to King himself, and the heroism he displayed in organizing history-changing events such as the Montgomery (Ala.) bus boycott.

Douglas knows this as well as anyone. He's a native of Montgomery, and even as a sixth-grader realized the hardship endured by his neighbors, some of whom lost jobs because they honored the boycott. And now, he finds, many young people he talks to have never even heard of it.

"It's sad. The awareness of the importance of these events has just gone to pot," he said.

Maybe next year he'll feel like doing something about it.

Lack of Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Hernando a failure by community 01/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 14, 2012 12:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code


    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  2. A punter is the state's only first-team, midseason All-American


    Here's another indictment of how mediocre the state's college football season has become.

  3. Fred Ridley on the Road to Augusta


    Last week, I sat down with Fred Ridley, the new chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. Ridley, a lawyer who has resided in Tampa since 1981, was the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion and is the only Chairman to have played in the Masters. I wrote a long story on Ridley, but here are some of the other …

    Fred Ridley, looks on during the Green Jacket Ceremony during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament in April at Augusta National Golf Club.
  4. Tampa police link two shootings, tell Seminole Heights residents to avoid walking alone


    TAMPA — One was a 22-year-old African American man. The other was a 32-year-old white woman.

    "There are no clear connections between our two victims," Interim Police Chief Brian Dugan said at a hastily called news conference Tuesday. "However our investigation leads us to believe the cases are related." [Photo from video]
  5. Pinellas Sheriff deputies T. Festa, left, and J. Short, righ,t arrest suspect Christopher Parsells, Pinellas Park, early Tuesday as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]