Florida mayor blasts Trump in MLK Day speech

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“I listen to him and don’t understand why more people don’t stand up and denounce his discriminatory comments and actions, especially the politicians in his own party.”

By Roxanne Brown | (Leesburg) Daily Commercial

CLERMONT – Mayor Gail Ash lashed out at President Donald Trump on Monday, criticizing the president for recent statements that have inflamed racial tensions and encouraging a crowd gathered to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day to denounce Trump’s behavior.

“Last year, I spoke about how our country was still divided by injustice against blacks, refugees, migrants, women, and so on,” Ash said during the “Keeping the Dream Alive” event. “I never imagined that racial discrimination would be even worse, just one year later, partly because of the words and actions of the leader of our own country. I listen to him and don’t understand why more people don’t stand up and denounce his discriminatory comments and actions, especially the politicians in his own party.”

Ash said she wished King was still here, despite it being almost 50 years since his assassination.

“If he were here, then maybe he could, once again, rouse people to object to the actions and words of those that promote and encourage discrimination against all people,” Ash continued. “I have contacted leaders of the Senate and the House with my dismay at their absolute silence. Have you?”

Ash ended by encouraging the crowd to take up the fight in King’s place.

“We must accept the responsibility to fight against such behavior. We must carry on his legacy. We must speak up against discrimination. We must not allow injustice to continue to take place in our nation. We must remember “all men are created equal” and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights,” Ash said. “As Americans it’s our responsibility to carry on Martin Luther King’s legacy. Are you ready to speak up? This fight is not over.”

“Remember how hard it has been to even reach the equality we now have. It is easily gone if you do not fight back with your words, with your actions, but remembering always to do it in a way that would honor Martin Luther King in non-violence. I’m with you. I’m ready if you are,” she said.

The program, emceed by Cathedral of Power’s pastor Rev. Chris Walker, continued with prayers and several song selections by local church singers and groups.

The Wootson Temple Youth Choir had the crowd cheering on even the littlest of singers, GPO Dance Academy’s Laquita Wilson had participants on their feet yelling “no” to fear, struggle and injustice and Octabis Blaine had people up and dancing as he rapped about freedom.

Event Coordinator Tim Murray, with Christian Men in Action, spoke about the strides that have been made over the years toward equality, but said there is still “a ways to go.”

The program concluded with an address by Christ Centered Fellowship’s Pastor Dr. Adrian Manly, the morning’s guest speaker, who asked for people to live a life of love and vision like King.

“Dr. King loved passionately and fervently. He loved so hard that police dogs couldn’t bite it out. He loved so hard that the fire hoses couldn’t drown it out. He loved so hard that the KKK and their burning crosses could not burn it out. He loved so hard that the police with their sticks could not beat it out. He loved so hard that being locked up in jail couldn’t lock it out. He loved so hard that church bobbins couldn’t blow it out,” said Manly. “He was convinced, and I too am convinced, that one of the greatest powers that we have in this world is love.”

“I want to encourage you today to let love be the motivating factor and the driving force for the change that is yet needed in our society today.”

After the program, Friends Rhonda James and Valerie Anderson, both of Clermont, said they were leaving “inspired.”

James said her only disappointment was that the Waterfront Park pavilion where the program is held was not filled with thousands of people in honor of King’s birthday.

“Martin Luther King’s dream was that the words in his speech would live on and on,” James said. “Clermont is a very diverse community, culturally and generationally, so everybody needs to be involved in making sure that his dream comes true.”

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