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Parade, service honor drum major for justice

A parade and a talent show in Brooksville for Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be for celebration, not protest.

By JONATHAN ABEL
Published January 15, 2006


BROOKSVILLE - Last year, Brooksville didn't have a march to commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.

Frankie Burnett, a City Council member and former president of the Hernando County NAACP, said he would forgo a march in 2005 to save up for a bigger parade in 2006.

"I promised a parade, and now we're going to have it," Burnett said last week in the parking lot of City Hall, just after the council approved a request to provide 21 police officers for the parade free of charge.

Burnett explained that marches are for protest, while parades are for celebration. This year, Hernando County will observe the birthday of the famed civil rights leader with the latter.

"Our theme this year is "It's our time,"' said Bridget L. Taylor, a former NAACP board member whose clothing business, Sash-U-Nation, is sponsoring the parade. "We just don't feel that we have to continue to march. ... We want to be able to celebrate and not always have something that we need to march for."

Monday's events begin at 11 a.m. at Russell Street in Brooksville. The parade will travel north on Main Street and Howell Avenue, ending at Hernando High School, where a field show is scheduled to take place at the football stadium.

Taylor, who is also a schoolteacher and a minister, is expecting 1,200 people and at least five floats for the parade.

The Hernando Eagles semiprofessional football team is coming, as are the Hernando High School band, the Frederick Kelly Elks Lodge and Pasco County's African-American Club, Taylor said.

The field show - a talent show - will feature poetry, dance routines, gospel groups and praise dancing. It kicks off at 2 p.m.

"We're trying to highlight things in the community that we are associated with and proud of," Taylor said, singling out the community's churches and its children. "Churches have always been at the forefront of whatever takes place. We have many youngsters who have gone off to school and become attorneys and pharmacists (as well as) kids on their way to pro football and baseball. And those are things we're proud of."

The event will cost between $3,500 and $4,500 to put together. There will also be a barbecue at the field show.

"We're trying to keep everything geared to Dr. King and the kind of celebration (appropriate to him)," Taylor said. "We have streamlined it to make sure that ... nothing should be done to desecrate him and what the day is."

Leading up to Monday's celebration, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on County Line Road is sponsoring a memorial service today for the "drum major for justice who made life better for all of us!"

The service begins at 4 p.m. and is sponsored by the Hernando County branch of the NAACP.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 352 754-6114.

[Last modified January 15, 2006, 01:47:20]


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