St. Augustine commemorates MLK Day with annual breakfast, silent walk

St. Augustine kicked off Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a sold-out breakfast at Flagler College.

The 39th annual breakfast theme reflected one of King’s famous quotes from his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech: America: Be True to What You Said on Paper.

Thomas Jackson, the chairman of the MLK Celebration Committee of St. Johns County, said he hopes the event encouraged people to take positive action and initiate change.

“I look at half empty half full. I think half full. I think some people are trying to drill a hole in that cup and keep the rights draining from the bottom. We keep filling it up. Freedom is not free; every generation has to take on the mantle of ensuring our freedom,” Jackson said.

The event featured keynote speaker, Dr. Patrick Coggins, who is a professor at Stetson University in Deland.

He believes it’s important to include history in the pursuit of equality and said some of what African Americans have learned in their history isn’t true.

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“The first African Americans were here in the sacred land of St Augustine; therefore, African American history should start right here,” Coggins said.

After the breakfast, hundreds silently walked a half mile through the streets of St. Augustine to the Plaza de la Constitución to commemorate the marches King led during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Dr. Keecia King, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., emceed the breakfast and said the diversity in the crowd showed that unity can move the needle.

“It shows that we all come together for a cause we can all work together to something happen and that’s the goal to identify the reason as to why we’re here today and work towards a better tomorrow,” she said.

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The program continued on the plaza with singing, spoken word and strong messages emphasizing the importance of unity. There were many local groups in the crowd, working to make the community a better place for all.

“Racial healing is critical to our organization we’ve worked some hard to…all one city and one big community is what we’re all about,” Arthur Culbert with the Compassionate St. Augustine said.

Culbert said a day like this gives him hope but he believes there are a lot of factors getting in the way that still need to be addressed.

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