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  • A.G. Smith

Miami Gardens celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. at the Betty T. Ferguson complex


People lined up for fresh conch salad and roasted corn, children bopped up and down in the bounce house, girl scouts sold cookies while a DJ and live performances created a soundtrack for the Martin Luther King Jr. day celebration at the Betty T. Ferguson recreational complex, Jan. 17.

“It’s not the typical parade. It’s something for all ages,” said Suzan McDowell, president of Circle of One Marketing. “Miami Gardens is so diverse, from African Americans to Haitians and Hispanics. There are not a lot of events in Miami where these cultures come together for one celebration. Martin Luther King Jr., he was not a black leader, he was a leader of all people,” said McDowell.

Attendees walked up to tables to get information from representatives of the Jessie Trice comprehensive health care centers, the Miami Herald, the Children’s Trust, YOUMedia of Miami-Dade county public libraries with their “What do you geek campaign?” and more community resources.

“It’s always important to commemorate and remember from where we came. It’s important for us to remember who he was and what he stood for,” said Mayor Oliver Gilbert. “We want to bring our community out for positive things to do with the family.”

In the amphitheater area, HOT105 WHQT-FM radio host, Rick Party, introduced live performances from local artists. Team Jesus entertainment spread the gospel with hip-hop. Julien Believe brought audience members onstage to learn a new dance, the Bahamian Slide. The winner of the dance contest won a pair of tickets to a comedy show. Female rapper, V. Stuck, kept the audience engaged with an energetic performance. La Vie performed a jazzy rendition, complete with scatting, of “Run to You” performed by Whitney Houston and her own song, “Alive.”

“I wanted to get out of the house and see what it was all about. I like it, its nice. It’s not raining. The weather is good. It’s not too crowded,” said Christopher Weeks, a Miami Gardens resident.

“I love the entertainment. I like the peace about it, everything is real peaceful it’s been peaceful all day,” said Kelly Williams.

As food trucks packed up and people walked to their cars, the DJ played one last song, “A Change is Gonna Come,” performed by Sam Cooke.

​ Photos: A.G. Smith

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