Clovis Watson, Jr. keynote speakerW - MLK alachua Watson DSC 0008 copy

 Florida State House District 20 Representative Clovis Watson, Jr. was the keynote speaker and received a rousing welcome from the hometown crowd at the City of Alachua Eighth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.

ALACHUA – Alachua residents of all ages and skin tones gathered together to dig into home style comfort food, listen to speeches and watch performances honoring civil rights legend Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The City of Alachua held its eighth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration at the Cleather Hathcock, Sr. community center on Monday, Jan. 21.

Newly elected State of Florida Representative Clovis Watson, Jr. was the keynote speaker for the ceremony and received a rousing welcome from the hometown crowd. Watson currently serves District 20 in the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee. He was Alachua’s first African American city manager, serving from 2002-2009. He also served in the Alachua Police Department as an officer and as Deputy Chief. Watson still resides in the city.

Addressing a crowd of about 150 at the center, he stressed the importance of tolerance and optimism for the future.

“We all know Rev. King had a dream, but if we don’t have a dream we won’t go far,” Watson said. “It takes teamwork to make the dream work.”

Watson closed his remarks by asking the audience to put the “united” in America.

Traci Cain, Watson’s successor as Alachua City Manager also spoke.

“We look forward to this annual event as a time to reflect on the deep sacrifices made by so many in the area of civil rights,” Cain said. “Our nation is stronger because of these sacrifices and it’s wonderful to be able to honor all that Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many others stood for.”

Cain emphasized community service and volunteering, commending Mayor Gib Coerper and Vice Mayor Robert Wilford along with other city commissioner and Alachua community members for their dedication to the city of Alachua and its residents.

But Jan. 21 was not only a day to honor the past in remembrance of Dr. King. More than 750 miles away in Washington D.C., President Barak Obama’s inaugural celebration was also underway. President Obama was sworn in for his second term as president of the United States of America on two bibles: one from President Abraham Lincoln and one from Rev. King.

This resonated with Alachua’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, for King and other civil rights leaders paved the way for today’s leaders.

Gainesville-based group The Actors’ Warehouse performed “I Feel the Spirit” – a short play honoring President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and King and his wife Coretta Scott King. The performance concept was – “What if the Obamas met the Kings?”

The nonprofessional community theater group was founded in 2011 by Rhonda Wilson, who is the artistic director for The Actors’ Warehouse.

The Music and Arts Program for Youth and Alachua’s Senior Cha Cha Chas also performed at the center in honor of King and his legacy.

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