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A brief tribute to an epic hero
Brooksville will honor - and teach - about Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
By JOEL ANDERSON, Times Staff Writer
Published January 19, 2008
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wife, Coretta, and daughter, Yolanda, are shown in 1956, the year the Supreme Court outlawed segregated busing. During a boycott of the Montgomery, Ala., bus system, Dr. King was arrested and his house was bombed.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 79 on Jan. 15.
BROOKSVILLE - Admittedly not quite blessed with the oratorical prowess of the man he'll be there to honor, James Yant has invited people to arrive a little early for his keynote address at Kennedy Park on Monday.
"Don't expect some great elaborate speech," Yant said Friday, chuckling a bit. "I might go about 10 to 15 minutes. I'm not a Dr. King or anything like that."
Yant, who owns a State Farm Insurance agency in Spring Hill, will deliver his address as part of a celebration organized by the local NAACP Youth Council for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The speech, which is expected to start around 11 a.m., is one of a number of activities scheduled for Monday in downtown Brooksville.
There will be music, poetry, speeches and a dance contest throughout the morning and afternoon, said Isabel Harris, youth adviser of NAACP chapter in Hernando County. Harris said visitors can also enjoy home-cooked plates of fish, barbecue ribs, chicken, hot dogs and chitterlings.
"We're going to do this really big," said Harris, who expects upward of 400 people to attend events throughout the day. "And we're only getting bigger."
Later in the afternoon, there will be an ecumenical service at the Grace World Outreach Center at 20366 Cortez Blvd. Pastor David Garcia will be the keynote speaker at that event.
Yant said he plans to kick off the day's activities with a speech geared toward the youth, many of whom have little familiarity with the overarching social changes that King championed.
"A lot of people know what's going on today but don't understand how things have transpired over the years," Yant said. "They take it for granted. Things have come so easy for them. Some of them don't look at this as being a significant part of our history."
Yant points to his own life as an example, charting the 31 years he's spent in Hernando County. He spent three years as a teacher at Hernando High School, worked at Pasco-Hernando Community College for the next 10 years and has sold insurance for the past 21 years.
"Most people know that I'm a businessman," Yant said. "But they don't know the other side of the story. If Dr. King hadn't had that dream, some of the things I've experienced, I never would have experienced."
But no matter the subject matter, Yant promises to keep the speech short and to the point. He figures his audience, most of them filled with students and children, will appreciate the brevity.
"We're dealing with young people and they don't want to hear someone come out and talk for 30 minutes," he said. "They want to see someone who they know is a product of Dr. King's dream."