JACKSONVILLE, Fla. –
Fifty years to the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at a Memphis hotel, leaders in Duval and St. Johns counties came together to celebrate King’s achievements and the challenges that still exist to make his dream come true.
Mount Sinai Baptist Church held a special service Wednesday morning. Keynote speakers, including former Mayor Alvin Brown, talked about the civil rights leader and activist's influence on America in the 1950s and 1960s.
“He had a profound impact on the world and community, and showed us that there are lots of things that we can do to work together so we can improve the education system and empower the next wave of entrepreneurs,” Brown said.
University of North Florida professor Parvez Ahmed said that if Dr. King were alive today, he would be fighting against inequality and poverty, threats to our environment, the militarization of local police, and what Ahmed calls the polarization of America.
“It’s a profound moment-- you think about the legacy of Dr. King and how much of it is still undone,” said Ahmed. “So Dr. King’s work remains undone and it’s on the shoulders of all us who claim to be inheritors of his legacy to carry on that work.”
In St. Johns County, another special service remembering King’s life. The unveiling of the “Let Freedom Ring” chimes project took place in Hayling Freedom Park. This is the first approved public art installation in St. Augustine's 453-year history.
Caren Goldman, the executive director of Compassionate St. Augustine, said the art initiative offers people an opportunity to ponder what it means to let freedom ring.
“It’s a really beautiful minimalist work of art for a passive park,” said Goldman.
Goldman said that it is no coincidence that this artwork was unveiled on the anniversary of King's assassination 50 years ago. She hopes King’s life of work will challenge citizens to have a positive impact in their community and reflect on what King would be fighting for today.