MLK Day Observed on the Suncoast

January 18, 2016
Bobeth Yates

People around the country honored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Monday, with the national holiday bringing the topic of race relations to the forefront.

About 100 people participated in an annual walk from the Robert L. Taylor Center down MLK Boulevard to the MLK Park. Participants chanted, "He had a dream to be a team, MLK."  

As the group gathered for the annual MLK celebration, some said the day is a reminder of the sobering reality that race relations in America are not where they should be.

"It is shameful on this celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. that we have to begin with a statement that black lives matter," said David Cobb with Move to Amend, a nonprofit organization that says their aim is to restructure society so everyone experiences their human rights. "Because of course that's true, but yet our racist country conduct itself as if it's not true." 

"We know that black people are murdered at a depressingly high rate by police in this country -- at a rate much higher than white people are," Cobb says. "So the reason that I say black lives matter is because it's true, and the reason that I will say that the United States of America is racist is because it sadly and depressingly true."

But for those like Hank Battie, who says he remembers the days of segregation all to well, things have come a long way.

"Growing up here, I would never have imagined that I would be doing what I can do now, which is selling very high end clothes to people who had stores this I couldn't shop in when I was growing up here," says Battie, the owner of Cravats Custom Clothiers and Haberdashery.

And he says that while there is a noticeable change in race relations, the work that's still left to be done can only be accomplished if we all work together.

"People of all colors -- whether you're black or white -- we just have to make a conscious effort to make a difference, and it really goes back to the golden rule, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you," he said.

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