Panama City joined other communities across America on Monday to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a key leader of the civil rights movement.
On the federal holiday that bears his name, hundreds of people – black, white, young, old – gathered for a celebration in McKenzie Park. The annual event is sponsored by the Advisory Committee for Urban Revitalization Equality (ACURE).
Opportunities for Americans of all races have come a long way in the half-century since Dr. King led the struggle for equality, but Nanie Daniels, a retired teacher who took part in cafe sit ins in South Florida, said the struggle continues. "We [haven't] got there yet… but it isn't like it used to be," Daniels said.
Myron Hines, ACURE's chairman, agreed. "The struggle has been advanced, but it's still there." Hines said. "We are still struggling to get the same rights they fought for fifty years ago."
Daniels sees evidence of a color-blind America but wants youngsters to be aware of King's legacy and the price he paid as leader of the non-violent movement.
Nyla White, 7, understands the impact Dr. King's leadership had on the country. "If we weren't all friends, he would have made us friends," she said. "If I couldn't play with my friends that were a different color than me, then we would be sad."
July 2 will mark 50 years since the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.
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