JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the second year in a row, Jacksonville held more than one Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast to celebrate the mission of the holiday’s namesake.
Despite similar schedules, organizers of both events told News4Jax they view it as a positive for the city to have multiple opportunities to honor the civil rights pioneer who pursued social justice peacefully.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Empowerment Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the African-American Minister Leadership Council and NAACP began at 7:30 a.m. Friday. News4Jax anchor Melanie Lawson emceed the event and Martin Luther King III delivered the keynote remarks.
“Every year that we get to the King holiday person the question becomes, ‘Have we achieved the dream?’ And the reality is, no, we are far from it. That does not necessarily mean that we will never there. It just means that we have to redouble and quadruple our work," King told Lawson at the event. “And particularly in an election year. My father used to say, ‘A voteless people is a powerless people. And one of the most important steps that we can take is that short step to the ballot box.'"
Former Mayor Alvin Brown told News4Jax he was looking forward to hearing from Dr. King’s son.
“You have a lot of people in this great city who remember his dad, so seeing the son come here and participate in the holiday to honor his father, it’s significant to those who have been involved in the struggle for civil rights,” Brown said.
The second breakfast, put together by the city of Jacksonville and sponsored by Florida Blue, was held around the same time at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Speakers included Mayor Lenny Curry and Coach Ken Carter, whose life inspired the 2005 film “Coach Carter.”
Like Brown, Curry said having multiple commemorative breakfasts gives people options on where they want to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.
“To the extent that everyone’s together at one breakfast, I would love that,” Curry said. “There was more than one breakfast that was happening before I was in office.”
Brown said having multiple celebrations for the occasion is a sign of progress in Jacksonville.
“It speaks to a city that is growing and maturing, and shows we can do more than one thing,” he said. “And if you look at other cities, they have other breakfasts. So I think it’s great, I think it’s positive.”