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Gainesville MLK holiday celebration will focus on ‘rebuilding the village’
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Participants in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday march make their way along EE Butler Parkway Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, on route to Fair Street School.

Starting with Bishop Reginald T. Jackson’s speech and ending with a youth rally at the Fair Street School, Gainesville’s observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday will be built around the theme of “rebuilding the village.”

The Rev. Rose Johnson, executive director of the Newtown Florist Club civil rights group, said the planning committee for the event tries to promote a theme that will connect to life in the community.

The official theme for Monday, Jan. 20’s observance is “Rebuilding the Village — Change Starts With You!”

“It is an expectation that what we envision to happen in the coming year will be heard and acted upon by the community,” Johnson said.

The planning committee had already set the theme before a group of parents met and formed “Parents Rebuilding the Village.” The group formed in response to issues at Gainesville Middle School following one mother’s call for help regarding bullying.

The goal for the day’s events, Johnson said, is to get people thinking about how they can be involved in creating a village “that is meaningful to children and families and people trying to just live and live well.”

The activities include a keynote speech by Bishop Reginald T. Jackson at St. John Baptist Church. Jackson said the theme of his speech will be “Is Justice the Answer?”

The bishop pointed to examples where the court system has rendered differing results for different people.

“The problem is justice can be perverted. Justice can be twisted, and so the question then again becomes: Is justice really the answer?” Jackson said.

The march will start at 1 p.m. Monday at St. John Baptist Church and will feature the Johnson High School marching band.

The youth rally at the Fair Street School is designed to give young people an opportunity “to allow their voices to be heard, in whatever ways they would like to share what they think,” Johnson said.

Martin Luther King, Jr Observance

  • 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20
  • St. John Baptist Church
  • 757 E.E. Butler Parkway, Gainesville

1 p.m. March starting at St. John Baptist Church

2 p.m. Youth Rally
  • Fair Street School
  • 695 Fair St., Gainesville