In an annual tradition, the Homestead and Florida City Communities united to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community activists, students, distinguished dignitaries, and many other community members gathered for an elegant breakfast celebration at the Phichol Williams Community Center.
Pastor Russel Black opened the program with a heartfelt invocation. Then, students from Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts performed an expressive dance to John Legend’s “Glory.” The dance was followed by a special video commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Florida City Commissioner Sharon Butler then took to the stage to deliver a brief, but meaningful speech charging attendees to carry out the theme of this year’s event every day—building alliances for the greater good by choosing community over chaos. Reverend Doctor Alphonso Jackson, Sr., of New Shiloh Baptist Church, headlined the event as Keynote Speaker. He gave an uplifting and humorous speech calling for community leaders to commit to equality and the betterment of society.
Reverend Jackson later returned to the stage to close the event with a Benediction after students from Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts led the entire crowd in a joyful rendition of The Negro National Anthem.
The program also included several special honors for community organizations, presented by Homestead Councilwoman Jenifer N. Bailey and the Southwest Advisory Committee.
Le Jardin Community Center, Inc. was honored in the Non-Profit category for their work with children and families in the Homestead and Florida City Community. The organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and families. They provide high quality educational, recreational and cultural activities and comprehensive services in a safe, caring, and nurturing environment.
Lovey Clayton was honored in the Business category for his commitment to being not just a businessman, but a community leader. Mr. Clayton was unable to attend the event, but Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace accepted the award on his behalf. Mayor Wallace expressed Mr. Clayton’s gratitude for the honor and reminisced about some of Clayton’s many accomplishments and contributions to the Homestead and Florida City Community.
Dorothy Stevens Thompson was honored in the Education/Mentoring Category. For 44 years, Mrs. Thompson taught music—30 of those were spent at A.L. Lewis Elementary School in Homestead. She also ran a weekly music club for her students and many children with behavioral issues would often correct their behavior in order to be able to participate in the music club.
Pastor Brock Shiffer was honored in the Faith Based category. Pastor Shiffer came to Homestead in 2005 and established Speedway Ministries. He felt the need to adopt Campbell Drive K-8 through this Ministry and soon became involved in 16 elementary schools in the area. By all accounts, his Ministry was instrumental in bringing several “F” schools to earning “B” or “A” grades.