Martin Luther King Jr: Celebrating his life, his legacy

Parades, picnics and services are among the activities planned to commemorate the holiday of the late civil rights leader.
By Julie Levin and Howard Cohen

Wayne Alexander will never forget how cold it was that March day in Washington D.C. when he marched with his favorite pop star, Stevie Wonder, along with thousands of others, to honor a man who helped bring the nation together from that very spot on an August day in 1963.

But this was March in the early 1980s and the chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee in Fort Lauderdale recalls the mission transcended the weather. They were there to push the nation’s leaders to acknowledge Dr. King with an official holiday dedicated in his name.

“I was willing to get out in March in freezing weather in D.C.,” Alexander, 60, laughs. “I felt it was extremely important. Stevie sang Happy Birthday and we knew it would happen — and it did happen.”

Not long afterward, in January 1986, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day became official. As the holiday reaches its 25th anniversary Monday, many will celebrate with renewed vigor to see that King’s ideals remain alive.

In Davie, students are drawing posters and writing essays. In Coral Springs, the focus will be on nonviolence and mutual respect. In several other cities, residents will honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with marches, parades and praise.

Here is a look at how many Broward communities are honoring King and his legacy.

Broward County: Volunteer Broward is organizing what it calls the largest day of service in the county’s history. Rallying around the theme, Follow the Leader - Become a Leader, the local affiliate of the national Hands On Network, plans to unite 100 nonprofit, faith-based and civic organizations and local businesses and corporations, with more than 5,000 volunteers to perform a wide array of tasks through Jan. 17, including community cleanups, a march for literacy and much more. To find out how to be a part of the MLK Day movement, browse the list of online projects at by clicking the button to the right or contact the group at 954-233-1300. The organization will continue to list new projects.

Coral Springs MLK Leadership and Diversity Day: The city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Committee invites middle and high school students to a day focused on leadership and diversity. Highlights include ice-breaking exercises and an inspirational speaker, followed by breakout sessions focusing on diversity, nonviolence and mutual respect.

Students can talk to their mayor and city commissioners on an informal basis; 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday at the Coral Springs Gymnasium, 2501 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs; 954-344-1834 or

Davie: The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Picnic will take place at Potters Park, 4300 SW 57th Terr. from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free activities will include a Praise Dance program, a climbing wall, bounce houses, a petting farm, a free lunch (while supplies last) and more. The town of Davie is also sponsoring its Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Poster & Essay Contest. All poster entries will be displayed during Davie’s picnic celebration. Winning essays will be read by each entry winner at the event. For contest information and applications, contact Bonnie Stafiej at 954-797-1163.

Deerfield Beach: The city’s Freedom March & Parade will be held Monday. It will begin at Pioneer Park, 217 NE 5th Ave., and proceed along Hillsboro Boulevard., ending at Westside Park in Deerfield Beach. The lineup will begin at 9 a.m. and the parade will start at 10 a.m. For information and applications, call 954-480-4480. A Martin Luther King Jr. program will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Westside Park Gymnasium, 445 SW 2nd St., Deerfield Beach.