'We're still trying to get there;' volunteers honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality

Parramore community hosts Day of Service events

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - All across the nation, millions of people stopped to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights icon who died in 1968 fighting for peace and equality for all people.

In Central Florida, thousands took part in events and community service projects organized to pay respects to King.

In the Orlando community of  Parramore, there was a lot of music and fun as more than 700 volunteers took part in beautification projects. They planted flowers, painted murals and cleaned up the area as part of MLK Day of Service. It was all done in collaboration with the city of Orlando.

"To me, it’s a day where, technically I was off, but I’m spending my off day here to help," said volunteer Jasmine Taylor.

"I’m just excited to be here, that we’re actually working and doing something better for the community, which is obviously what Dr. King was attempting to do as well," Taylor said.

Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill said volunteers also helped to build a food pantry at a church in Parramore. The pantry will soon provide more healthy food options for residents.

"This is a community effort showing the people of Parramore that they have not been forgotten," Hill said. 

Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolon and his officers came out to connect with the Parramore residents, but also used the opportunity to better bridge the gap between law enforcement and police. 

"Oftentimes of course we’re brought in when something negative is happening.  This shows the other side of law enforcement that we hope everyone will understand," Rolon said.

"We’re not there yet, but at least we’re making strides to do some things where we’ve got all kinds of folks coming together," City of Orlando Urban Development Director Walter Hawkins said.

News 6 ran into Neika Berry and her sorority sisters at the MLK Parade in Apopka. 

They were at the parade to honor "unity and celebration for Martin Luther King," Berry said.

Berry was like many people sharing in King’s legacy, especially his emphasis on service and how he fought for peace and equality for everyone.

"For us to be able to walk and support the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King is very important to us," Berry said, adding that the fight for equality is far from over.

"We’re still trying to get there and I think it’s important for our younger students of color just to see what it is that we’re doing so we can lay the foundation for them and that can continue to march as we move on," Berry said.

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