How Orlando is honoring Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy 50 years later

ORLANDO, Fla. – It was 50 years ago Wednesday that Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most vocal leaders of the civil rights movement, was gunned down while standing on a balcony in a Memphis, Tennessee hotel.

In the decades since his death, King's legacy as an activist and advocate for equal rights continues to be honored with events, ceremonies and memorials nationwide, including in Central Florida.

Many people say King was a drum major for justice, a pioneer for nonviolence and a man who simply wanted equal rights for everyone. 

"His movement inspired companies to include blacks in job situations they never were considered for," said Rolland Miller. 

Dr. Tim Adams lives in Orlando and joined clergy members at Tinker Field on Wednesday morning to honor King's life and legacy. 

"When Dr. King came to Orlando that was the highlight of most of our lives, most of our teen lives," Adams said. 

Adams said he can’t forget the day in 1964 when King spoke at Tinker Field. 

"The man was one of a kind, and we were just so glad to be here in his midst. It meant a lot to us because we didn’t know what we were going to be when we grew up, but if we could be like him then that would be alright," Adams said. 

Many clergy members say they agree the fight must continue and there’s still much more to be done. 

"It is necessary that we not ignore that there are still some issues that exist today with racial equality and injustices that are taking place, not only here in Orlando, but throughout our nation," said Bishop Kelvin Cobaris, president of the African American Council of Christian Clergy.  

Freddie Stevenson said King made it possible for companies to hire African Americans.

"I was the first African-American hired at Kennedy Space Center, and as far as I know, I was the first African-American in the fire service in the Central Florida area," Stevenson said. 

Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill agrees more can be done to preserve King's legacy and she’s now working to preserve a portion of Tinker Field as a tribute to the civil rights leader.

"Most of all to remember his legacy, but to remember we still have work to do," Hill said.

Hill said by this summer, an area at Tinker Field should be complete, sort of like a memorial site, to pay respects to King and other civil rights leaders. 

Below is a list of happenings in the Orlando area in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Have an event you'd like to see added to the list? Email the details to acutway@wkmg.com.

Remembering the Dream
The African-American Council of a Christian Clergy of Central Florida, city of Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill and other community leaders wil gather at Tinker Field -- the last place King spoke while in Orlando -- to honor King's legacy and discuss the ongoing need for justice.
When: Events begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday with a commemoration community service at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Tinker Field, 287 S. Tampa Ave., Orlando

Local clergy members pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy at Tinker Field on April 4, 2018 the 50th anniversary of his death.
Local clergy members pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy at Tinker Field on April 4, 2018 the 50th anniversary of his death.

The Fair Housing Act 50th Anniversary Celebration and Banquet
The banquet on April 12 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act,  commemorate the 50th anniversary of King's death and honor those who've fought for civil rights. There will be a dinner, an awards presentation and a speaker.
Cost: Tickets to the event are $25. Parking at the hotel's garage is $10 per day or $18 for valet.
When: April 12, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown Orlando -- 60 South Ivanhoe Blvd., Orlando
Click here for more details.

Moment of silence in Orlando
What: Mayor Buddy Dyer, city of Orlando commissioners and Orlando’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission will observe a moment of silence at 7:01 p.m. In addition, The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-violent Change has asked that institutions of faith across the city ring their bells 39 times to honor King.
When: Wednesday, 7:01 p.m.
Where: Orlando


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