Gainesville celebrates MLK Day 

Parade marchers talking outside of the football stadium.
Parade marchers talking outside of the football stadium. (Photo by Taryn Ashby)
Photo by Taryn Ashby

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Florida, Inc. honored the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday by hosting a “King Celebration” in Gainesville. 

The celebration began with a Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Bo Diddley Plaza. 

Several district, city, and state officials were in attendance, including Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward, state Rep. Yvonne Hayes, and School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) Chairwoman Tina Certain. 

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Eastside High School student Makayla Flanders and community activist Chanae Jackson were honored during the ceremony. 

Makayla Flanders (center) poses in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Garden hall of fame wall alongside side (from left) Rodney J. Long, Diyonne McGraw and Flanders' parents.

Flanders received the 2023 Edna M. Hart Keeper of Dream Scholarship, which granted $10,000 to Flanders to help further her education after high school. 

“It feels great, and I am truly honored,” said Flanders in an interview. “To have my name attached to this wall and be able to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and continue the legacy he made is special.” 

Jackson was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Her name and photo were added to the Hall of Fame wall near the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial garden and fountain in Bo Diddley Plaza. 

“I have gotten to know Chanae and built a relationship with her, so I know she is a person who speaks up and advocates for what is right,” said SBAC member Diyonne McGraw in an interview. “I am so happy for her. She will forever be a part of history.” 

After the ceremony, community members gathered for a parade starting at Bo Diddley Plaza and finishing at Citizens Field. 

Awaiting the parade walkers was a large gathering to celebrate the holiday. 

Citizens Field featured live entertainment, speeches, free food and drinks, and numerous tents showcasing an abundance of variety, from clothing to fraternity and sorority information. 

“It is hard to have anything negative to say about today,” said Ward in an interview. “It is really great to be together and get a crowd out today to celebrate this day. Everyone looks forward to this event every year.” 

Photo by Taryn Ashby Makayla Flanders (center) poses in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Garden hall of fame wall alongside side (from left) Rodney J. Long, Diyonne McGraw and Flanders' parents.
Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity showed support at Citizen’s Field.
Members of the Reichert House stop to pose for a picture in front of MLK banner.
Members of the Reichert House stop to pose for a picture in front of MLK banner.

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