Deerfield MLK event –State Senator Thurston speaks on ‘Unified persistence’

Posted on 24 January 2020 by JLusk

State Senator Gary Farmer (L) says a few words before Keynote Speaker State Senator Perry Thurston (R) speaks.

By Diane Emeott
State Senator Perry E. Thurston, Jr. recalled when he was a freshman
from Pompano Beach entering the revered Morehouse College in Atlanta
on a football scholarship.
It is a school known for producing strong, young African American
leaders such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., former first
black mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson, director/actor/writer Spike
Lee and actor Samuel L. Jackson.
“As a 17-year-old, I was a little bit in awe of their oratory style.[They were very well spoken]. A lot of graduates go on to be scholars,
ministers, etc.
“I asked this guy, ‘How’d you get to speak so well?’ And he promised
he’d give me some helpful tips — for the fee of a two-piece chicken
dinner. As he was finishing devouring his second piece of chicken, I
asked him the question again.
“ ‘Just remember the [3] B’s: ‘Be Brief, Brother!’” he advised.
Thurston’s story drew laughter from the afternoon crowd gathered by
the outdoor stage on Oveta McKeithen Recreational Complex (OMRC)
fields at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20.
He also brought up to the stage fellow State Senator Gary Farmer, who
represents Deerfield Beach. [Patricia Hawkins-Williams represents
Deerfield as State Representative, continuing on in the same District
92 where Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed served for many years.]
Thurston affirmed Deerfield’s theme of “Unity” for MLK festivities
this year, speaking of the continued need for “unified persistence” –
one of the themes of MLK.
“In Deerfield Beach, we had the Old Colored Cemetery. A travesty. We
all came together, state and local leaders like Clarke-Reed, and look
what has resulted from it: Branhilda Richardson Knowles Memorial Park
& Cemetery.”
[Newly opened on Aug. 24, 2019 in Deerfield Beach, Branhilda Park was
the result of combined efforts by former District 2 Commissioner
Gloria Battle and community members; as well as Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed
in the House and Maria Sachs in the Senate, and most recently Patricia
Hawkins-Williams in the House and Perry Thurston in the Senate,
working to receive a Historical Designation and funding from the
At the MLK Day Ceremony, Thurston referenced Martin Luther King’s
famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
“What Dr. King essentially was saying is, ‘These are the things I want you to work toward…,’ Thurston said.
Remaining issues to be addressed in the current day are the following, he said:
1)    Poverty and food Insecurity, putting an end to poverty.
       “How can people not know where their next meal is coming from?” Thurston asked.
2)    Homelessness
3)    Affordable healthcare for all, including Mental Health.
4)    Public Education.
       “[On Oct. 7, 2019] the Governor [Ron DeSantis] proposed $47,500 as a minimum salary for new teachers. We want to pay ALL the teachers! And Security personnel too. They also have an important job,” he added.
Parade Winners were announced Monday afternoon before Senator Thurston spoke.
Best Civic Group – City of Deerfield Beach Management
Best Marching Band – DBHS Bucks
Best Church Entry – Church of the Living God (Pastor Dennis Fullmore)
Best Overall Float – Cathedral Church of God (Bishop Patrick Kelly)
Best Youth Group – Delray Divas
Best School, Elementary – Deerfield Park Elementary
Talented saxophonist Markus Howell was back home in Deerfield to play
the “National Anthem” on Martin Luther King’s Birthday.
Deerfield’s 2020 MLK Celebration featured a longer parade route and
time: Departing St. Ambrose Church & School on Federal Highway at 10
a.m. and traveling to OMRC by 12:30 p.m; followed by a Battle of the
Bands from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., and the chance for families to purchase
a “picnic lunch” from food trucks lining the fields at OMRC. More entertainment from 2:45 to 6 p.m. followed Thurston’s speech. R &
B/soul singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Lyfe Jennings headlined the
city’s MLK Parade and Picnic.
New this year, a MLK Committee of residents assisted Parks & Recreation in planning the event and handing out awards. On the committee were Annette Mitchell, Sandra Jackson, Diane Chisholm, Janice Fulmore Tigner and Lawanda Strowbridge.
The annual Choir Competition, held for years the Sunday night before
MLK Day in Dr. Leo J. Robb Gymnasium, was renamed “Praise & Worship
Competition” for 2020.
Three gifted adult musical groups vied for the title, lifting strong voices and expertly played instruments in one palpable Spiritual song after another, to praise God for all He has done and is still doing. The music was so moving, the audience was clapping and dancing along.
Florida All-Star gospel singers, a professional group of men from Pompano Beach, who have reportedly recorded an album, were among the
three groups of adult performers.
Two Deerfield groups – past winner Cathedral Church of God (Bishop
Patrick Kelly) and Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church Ensemble (Rev.
Demetric Ford) – tied. So they split the winnings – with each of the two churches receiving checks for $750.
Young singers from Church of the Living God (Pastor Dennis Fullmore/Janice Fullmore Musical Director) won $300 for their efforts.
Judges for the Praise & Worship Competition were: Percy Jackson, Katy
Freitag, Carolyn Cason and Flora Philpart.

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