The “Living the Dream and A Tribute to Motown” event held at the New World Landing on Saturday January 18th as a part of the Dr. Martin Luther King 2014 Birthday Celebration was a huge success on several levels. The second year for this new Pensacola event, which benefits the Southern Youth Sports Association (SYSA), is fast becoming the most popular private business response to celebrating the legacy of Dr. King. The crowd was very racially and professionally diverse including Mayor Aston Hayward, the Chief of Police, Attorney Fred Levin, local pastors and ministers, youth football league coaches, local attorneys, non-profit leaders, and many county-wide community activists. The Motown Tribute Band played a litany of Motown hits and 1960’s music that had everyone on the dance floor including Mayor Hayward dancing with Mary May, Commissioner May’s mother.
Complimenting the MLK Celebration Commission’s theme of “Live the Dream and Work the Vision” awards was presented to seven honorees that have blazed the trail of civic engagement by giving back to communities in need through their professional skills and abilities. The honorees were:
· Gloria Clay, Job Development Counselor, Escambia County Community Affairs, Founder of “Women Telling Their Business Forum”, Former President and Member Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
· Shirley Cronley, Summit Bank Board of Directors Member, Community Activist and Retired Hotelier, Former Pensacola Sports Association Executive Director, Tourism Development Council Vice Chairman, Escambia County Board of Commission appointee.
· Grover Fields, Founder and Executive Director, Senior Server Administrator of HBCU Information Network (HBCUIn), Microsoft Certified IT Professional and Senior Server Administrator, Abacus Technology Corporation, Kennedy Space Center, Local and Statewide Philanthropist.
· Dr. Tara Gonzales, Board Certified Pediatrician,18-year Clinical Practitioner, Medical Science Directors, MedImmune, LLC, Former Assistant Medical Director of Children’s Medical Services, Pensacola, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Florida State University College of Medicine
· Cecily McLeod, Commercial Litigation & Construction Associate, Gordon & Rees, LLP, Atlanta, Contract Compliance Officer, City of Atlanta (position appointed by Mayor’s Office), Co-Chair, National Moot Court Competition, Region V, Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia
· Rick Outzen, Publisher & Owner, The Independent News, Publisher & Writer, “RicksBlog.biz”, Contributor, The Daily Beast
· Sue Straughn, News Anchor & Senior Editor, WEAR-TV, Founder/Organizer, Communities Caring at Christmas Campaign, Producer & Host, Straughn & Company Public Affairs Program, Community Activist.
Dr. Karl Lewis, a Pensacola native based in Sarasota, Florida, came up with the idea for the event following the 2012 election of County Commissioner Lumon May. They both felt that there needed to be additional events to “try to do something to get rid of this racial divide” in Pensacola and Escambia County. In a passionate interview with The Pensacola Voice, Dr. Lewis stated that many have sacrificed their lives for him to achieve what he has accomplished and in his travels he has experienced many events that bring people of diverse backgrounds together and he and Commissioner May wanted to bring that spirit of community celebration to a local MLK social event. Commissioner May considers Dr. Lewis as one of his mentees that shares his vision of actively pursuing the dream of Dr. King by honoring those community leaders who give back to persons and communities in need. May made the statement that, “It is time for our community to put the car in drive and look through the front windshield to see where we need to go, rather than always looking into the rear view mirror!”
The event was sponsored by Quint Studer, Levin-Papantonio Law Firm, Vinyl Music Hall, Lewis Bear, Edward Jones Investors, Dr. Karl Lewis-Comfort Dental, and Commissioner Lumon May.