Bradenton community comes together to celebrate MLK

BRADENTON -- To honor Martin Luther King's Jr., the civil rights activist famed for his "I Have A Dream" speech and organizing non-violent civil rights demonstrations, more than 50 middle and high school students wrote down their dreams.

Eriyan Flemming, 14 and an 8th grader at Electa Lee Middle School, said Monday her dream is to get an education and for everyone to be treated as equals.

About 200 people attended the 2015 MLK Day of Service event at Rogers Community United Methodist Church, sponsored by the Family Heritage House, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the church as a way for the community to learn about "preserving our heritage trail." Attendees learned about researching and sharing stories about their family's history while enjoying lunch and games.

"We saw this as an attempt to enrich the lives of adults and children," said Lynette Edwards, who sits on the board of directors of the Family Heritage House. "We certainly acknowledge the work of Dr. King. He's our hero. He was about ser


Rogers Community United Methodist Church Rev. Alan Jackson said the event fits with the church's mission.

"We want to not only be a church in the community but the church of the community," Jackson said. "This is like Christmas to us. We get to give gifts. This is truly a gift to the community."

Monday's event was made possible thanks State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, who was awarded $135,000 to fund 27 community projects as part of the 2015 MLK Day of Service in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Adjacent to the service project at Rogers United Methodist Church, Diamondz in the Rough, a girls mentoring group, held a community Peace Rally at East Bradenton Park.

SCF also used some of its grant money to help fund the event.

Tennille Moore, founder of Diamondz in the Rough, said she hoped the event promoted community awareness.

"We really wanted to do it with all the crime," said Moore, who has been organizing the MLK event since 2013. It was the first year the Peace Rally was held as part of the event.

During the four-hour long event on Monday, children played kickball and flag football and Strength In Action, another MLK Day of Service grant recipient organization, handed out 300 backpacks with school supplies to children at the event.

Carmen Mosley, president of Diamondz in the Rough, said she was happy with Monday's turnout and is hopeful that this will help put a stop to violence in the community.

"We are planning to do this annually," she said.

State Rep. Darryl Rouson ensured that $1 million was given to four community colleges including SCF this year to fund the MLK service projects.

"The idea is to truly honor the legacy of (MLK) by public service," Rouson said at the service event at Rogers United Methodist Church. "What a better tribute than public service. ... You can't quantify the social good for services performed. It is heartwarming."

SCF President Carol Probstfeld said she is proud that the grants have enabled SCF to do this for a second year.

"This is what it is all about," she said.

Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.