MLK Day in Tampa has special resonance

01/20/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Monday afternoon, the Tampa parade honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day began right in front of the WMNF studios on MLK Jr. Blvd. WMNF was there to capture the flavor of the crowd on a historic holiday coming one day before the inauguration of the first black president of the United States.

Naturally, the link between Dr. King and Barack Obama was ever present, as several people in the audience admitted they never thought they’d see the day a man of color was elected to the highest office in the land.

Pat Frank, currently the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court, was one of several elected officials in attendance at the parade. Also present were Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, and several Hillsborough County Commisioners including Chairman Ken Hagen, Kevin Beckner and Mark Sharpe. Sharpe was a strong supporter of Barack Obama’s opponent, John McCain, but he says he’s strongly behind the new commander in chief.

Kevin Beckner became the first openly gay elected official ever in Hillsborough County when he was elected into office the same night as Obama. Beckner says the Illinois senator‘s victory is a significant achievement in evolution of the country.

Two African Americans in the crowd said that they actually felt physically safer with a black president.

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