South Miami will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with a parade in the city’s historically black neighborhood on Saturday.
The parade is being held four days after King’s birthday — Jan. 15, 1929. He was born in Atlanta and became an icon for his nonviolent civil disobedience efforts in the African-American civil rights movement.
In South Miami, black history month flags with the colors red, black and green were already up Tuesday at the Bethel-Gibson Community Center in Murray Park, 5800 SW 66th St. Black history month has been marked on February in the U.S. since 1926, before King was born.
“The entire community is coming together to preserve Dr. King’s Dream. We are going to have a choir, bands, dancers,” said Gail Alexander vice president of South Miami’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee “We are honoring not only the principles of non-violence but we are also honoring the importance of dignity and unity.”
About 500 people are expected to attend the parade, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. at Southwest 71st Street and 59th Place, which is also known as Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. The parade will end at Murray Park with a celebration expected to end about 5 p.m.
Four school bands will participate: Miami Central High School from West Little River, Booker T Washington Senior High School from Overtown, Allapattah Middle School from Model City and Charles Drew Middle from Brownsville.
“It’s a family event that goes back to many generations. I have been a part of this celebration since I was 17. I’m now 33,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee President Brock Chester said.
The area of South Miami that is predominantly African-American is known in government as the Community Redevelopment Area, or CRA. It has a budget with funds from Miami-Dade County to improve the infrastructure of the area. Some were not happy with a decision made during budget season to use funds from the CRA to cover the cost of the parade. Miami-Dade County reviewed and approved the budget.
At a recent commission meeting, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee member Rodney Williams complained.
“This is an event that is important for the entire neighborhood,” Williams said. “They keep on treating it like it’s something separate. The Christmas Elves parade gets more support. Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Chester believes that the parade is important for the community to “heal” and to look into a positive future.