Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in Tampa

Tampa Police estimate over 4,000 people attended today’s 38th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade in east Tampa. The parade from N. 15th Street and MLK Boulevard to N. 22nd and Osborne Avenue had marching bands, community leaders, school, church and other groups tossing beads to the crowds. Many had the day off to celebrate MLK Day, a national holiday. Young parade goers reflected on how the civil rights leader and activist affected their lives. “I just like to see the bands. It’s really a nice day. Everyone is unified and faithful and for one day, love each other,” said Bianca Pastrana, a Hillsborough County High School student. For young Byron, he says has no MLK dream now in his life, but is hopeful. “He was a really special man who got blacks and whites together,” he said.

Edwin Quinones, 21, was born in Tampa and has lived in east Tampa all his life. Quinones is a merchandiser for Costa Farms. “People were scared he was right. He believed in desegregation like he believed in unity,” said Quinones.

Lucas Hall, 20, is from Chicago and a sales associate at Home Shopping Network. Hall says King fought the civil rights battles for today’s generation. “I’m half Puerto Rican and half Black…My mother is a light-skinned person. I’m a dark-skinned person. If it was back in his day, we would not have been able to go out in public without being ostracized. His death made him such a powerful figure. If it wasn’t for that, no one would have understood because his message was something people die for and he showed that,” said Hall.

—Carol Lim

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