The community gathered Monday in Fort Myers to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on this national day of service. But this year, it means even more.
Today marks the celebration of a man whose legacy was unity. But bringing people together isn’t easy in an era where so many of us disagree.
Edward Hardin is the vice president of the Dunbar Festival Committee. “We are in uncertainty. And with uncertainty, there’s a lot of confusion. So today is vitally important that everyone knows we will get better,” said Hardin.
The pandemic has forced the people who organize the annual MLK Multicultural Celebration in Fort Myers to downsize. Instead of having a grand parade, they invited people to honor Dr. King at the Stars Complex, where masks and social distancing are encouraged.
Luckily, that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. “This is the time now where we really need to push that we need each other. We all need each other,” Hardin said. “There’s enough room in this big world for all of us to survive together to pray together to be together and just make this world a better place.”
This year’s celebration came after the summer of 2020 was dominated by calls for social justice. And all of those chants from last summer are echoed with messages of hope, that change is on the horizon.
Sonya Safford lives in Fort Myers. “I’m hoping that 2021 brings a bigger change than the previous years,” Safford said.
For Faye Stockner, this holiday is about making sure the next generation understands the message that Dr. King was famous for.
“Make sure our kids understand about the history and where we came from and where our foreparents came from,” Stockner said. “So when we pass they can be able to tell their kids what’s going on.”
they want to continue Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s mission to achieve equality.
2021 is the 38th year for this MLK event. The goal for years to come is to expand the celebration beyond Fort Myers to Lehigh Acres and into Charlotte County.