Despite record breaking cold temperatures and the temptation of staying home and comfortable, thousands of Jacksonians participated in activities to commemorate the life of noted civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr.
Festivities began Friday with the city hosting the annual breakfast bearing his namesake in his honor. The breakfast also paid tribute to area youth dubbed “Tomorrow’s Leaders.” The youth were lauded for excelling in volunteerism, leadership and civic responsibility.
“As we gather to celebrate Dr. King’s remarkable legacy, let us remain mindful of the principles on which Dr. King built his life,” said Mayor Lenny Curry who hosted the event at the Prime Osborne Convention Center.
The speaker for the event was Dr. Sampson Davis, an emergency medicine physician and author who beat the odds of humble begginings to complete a medical career – a pact he made with two of his friends from similiar backgrounds. He shared his desire and ability to achieve a better life chronicled in the book, The Pact: Three Young Men Make A Promise and Fulfill A Dream, to a sold out audience.
The three day weekend was capped off Monday with a variety of activities. Despite a temperature in the 30’s, the annual MLK Parade wined through downtown Jacksonville complete with bands, clowns, politicians and organizations to the delight of onlookers.
Some also took the opportunity to “spend a day on and not a day off”.
The Jacksonville Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. joined other volunteer organizations around the city with more than 40 volunteers from their local chapter, sprucing up the grounds and cleaning donated books at the Methodist Children’s Village on the Westside.
Teaching the importance of service early, over 30 youth joined by their mothers worked to beautify urban church grounds.
“It was a very impactful volunteer event, especially for the youth,” said Patricia G. Sams, president of the Jacksonville Chapter of Jack and Jill. “We work hard to foster volunteerism and a sense of community in our children, and yesterday they stepped up to the plate. Our efforts made an immediate visual impact on the grounds and the children and parents had fun while doing it.”