Tampa celebrates MLK Day, inauguration - FOX 13 News

Tampa celebrates MLK Day, inauguration

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

There were speeches, songs and prayer, all in the name our nation's most well-known and well respected civil rights leader.

Monday marked the 27th year of the Hillsborough County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Memorial Service at Mt. Calvary Seventh Day Adventist Church in Tampa.

"It's very important that on an annual basis we come together we celebrate his memory and we celebrate the memory of all those to work to create civil rights gains for us," said civil rights activist Leon Russell.

Those who came out to commemorate the holiday say they were not disappointed.

"The speakers, the music, and the feeling of being in a place where people mutually cared about a vision for the future. I like that," said Richard Dembo of Tampa.

"Anytime I can get in a service where people are unified information is being passed on and encouragement is being given, I wanna be in that place," said Steve Marshall of Tampa.

And while this is an important Tampa event every year, this year's program had a presidential feel.

"It's extremely significant that inauguration day and Martin Luther King's birthday celebration falls on the same day," said Russell.

Many of the speakers took an opportunity to mention the significance of the nations first African-American president being sworn in for his second term on the MLK holiday.

Russell is a local civil rights activist who received the Robert W. Saunders Award at Monday's event.

He says the coincidental date of the inauguration gave President Obama a chance to remind the masses of the sacrifices made by all involved in the civil rights movement.

"It gives, and I think very obviously, gave President Obama in his inaugural address, the opportunity to talk about the struggle, the benefits of the struggle and how those benefits do accrue to all Americans," said Russell.

It was against that backdrop that Monday's program revered an American hero who many say paved the way for this American president.

"In a way it's a happy coincidence," said Dembo.

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