Martin Luther King Day Celebration Pays Tribute To Civil Rights Leaders
Civil Rights Martyr Harry Moore and icon Martin Luther King, Jr. were highlighted in ceremony.
Gwendolyn Taylor locked arms with African American Club of Pasco president Darryll Stevenson as she walked down Circle Blvd. in New Port Richey at the front of a mass of people Monday.
Taylor and the 100 or so others were completing a symbolic march from Community Congregational Church in downtown New Port Richey in honor of the birthday of iconic civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I believe we need to keep that dream alive,” Taylor said.
The march was part of an event organized by the African American Club of Pasco, and the New Port Richey city government. The event spanned downtown New Port Richey, from the church to the headquarters of the West Pasco Historical Society, and on to Sims Park.
King, born Jan. 15, 1929, fought against racial inequality during the era of legalized racial segregation, and he is famous for doing so using nonviolent means. King was spokesman during the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, which protested segregation on public transportation. He led a campaign of nonviolent protests against segregation in Birmingham in 1963.
During the March on Washington later that year, he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. That speech is credited with being partly responsible for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which essentially ended legalized segregation.
From 1955 until his assassination in 1968, King led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the group he helped found that also fought to end segregation.
The New Port Richey event was attended by a diversity of community members. Some were black. Some were not.
“Lord God, it is good to se that you have drawn us together in a unity that represents the diversity amongst us, “ the Rev. Mark Hamilton told the gathered community members before the march.
At Sims Park, the marchers rested and were treated to performances by Gulf High students, area churches.
Jairus Knight, who attends Trinity Christian College, spoke about hope and Dr. King’s message. People are still fighting, he said. They’re still busy separating each other by race, religion and sex.
But there is hope, he said.
“We can all come together,” he said.
Stevenson reflected on where the U.S. is when it comes to race relations.
“We’ve come a long way, but the race ain’t over yet,” he said .
The audience was also presented with the tale of another person who fought for civil rights: Harry T. Moore. Florida State University professor Ben Green told the tale.
Moore was a teacher and regarded as a pioneer of the civil rights movement in Florida. He lived with wife Harriette Moore in Mims, Fl.
He started the Brevard County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1934.
In conjunction with a Florida all-black teachers association and with NAACP backing, he filed the first lawsuit in the Deep South seeking to equalize black and white teachers’ salaries.
He organized the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and became presioent. He also founded the Progressive Voters’ League. His efforts are credited with adding more than 100,000 voters to the state Democratic Party
He also fought lynchings and police brutality in the state, often traveling to towns where he was not welcome.
A bomb placed under the floor boards of Moore’s home, right under the bed Harry shared with Harriett, exploded Christmas Night, 1951. Moore was killed. Harriet later died from her injuries.
“Most people don’t know who they are,” Green said.
Green asked the audience to pledge to spread the word about the Moores.
“I hope in the memory of Dr. King, we take the time to remember Harry and Harriett Moore,” he said.