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King's dream moves hearts and feet

About 300 participate in the parade to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of racial equality and justice.

[Times photo: Daniel Wallace]
Wilene Adkins, center, Shaniqua Carter, 8, and Diane Maner, right, sings as the march moved along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Brooksville.

By JAMIE JONES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 22, 2002

BROOKSVILLE -- They came on foot and on bicycles, in cars and in vans, and met in south Brooksville early Monday morning.

They lifted banners and started to sing as they walked down School Street and began an annual march to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the front of the group stood Robbie Burnett, a 12-year-old student at Parrott Middle School, who held a banner for the local NAACP.

"He was a good man," Robbie said of King. "We're here to remember that he strove for better. He believed in equality. We need to remember."

LeRoyal Vickers, 18, marched nearby. "He's an inspiration and a dream," she said of King. "He showed us we need to come together more."

As the march progressed down Main Street toward the courthouse, residents held banners high. One read: "Keeping the Dream Alive." Another said: "Celebrating Dr. King's legacy."

Sharon Bennett, a 48-year-old Brooksville resident, was driving home when she passed the group marching. She pulled over, rolled down her window and clapped along.

"I'm so very proud to see this," Bennett said. "It means a lot to remember Dr. King on this day."

About 300 people gathered at the courthouse for a ceremony to honor King. Most of the participants were black. Fewer than a dozen white people attended besides community leaders such as county commissioners, Sheriff Richard Nugent and Police Chief Ed Tincher.

At the courthouse, Brooksville resident Bridget Taylor read a poem urging residents to continue fighting for King's dreams.

Equality is still questionable, Taylor said. Black children still face a different set of rules, she said.

Taylor told the audience that she will continue to dream, and they must still dream, of justice and equality among all races.

Dr. Sharon Vickers, member of the local NAACP and organizer of the event, echoed the sentiment by telling the audience that King's great dreams have not been fully realized.

"So we continue to march," she said.

Christine Samuel, director of Eckerd Youth Challenge Program, a wilderness camp south of Brooksville for troubled youths, stood in the crowd with several teens enrolled in her program.

She said she thought it was important to honor King's teachings.

"Dr. King can teach these children that they have to strive for unity and that together they can make a difference," she said. "He said we can live together as brothers, without fighting each other. That's an important lesson for these kids."

After the ceremony, the group gathered at Kennedy Park for an annual fish fry.

Sheri Lofland, 25, said she was thankful for the day, and for King.

"We're here to celebrate our freedom," she said. "We should celebrate that every day."

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