JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- The annual MLK Breakfast has become a showcase for the city, packing thousands into the Prime Osborne Convention center.
But some civil right leaders are saying what's being celebrated does not represent the communities.
"When you look at the overall program then you ask what's in it for us," Rev. Levy Wilcox said.
Reverend Wilcox heads the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
of which Dr. King was president.
"What's in it for the SCLC? " he said. "What's in it for the NAACP?”
This week the SCLC and the NAACP told Mayor Lenny Curry, by letter, they will not participate in the 2018 MLK Breakfast.
The letter states, in part:
"...The current absence of respectful discourse around civil rights, economic rights, human rights and the lack of inclusion in the planning of the MLK breakfast."
"The mayor says we have One Jax in this community but in terms of the Black community we are still suffering economically," Wilcox said.
Orion Caldwell runs the Information and Community Alliance Network near 45th street. He said finding and creating jobs is one of his goals in the community.
"I don't think enough is being done," Caldwell said.
Like the two civil rights groups, he would like to see the city put more into his neighborhood.
"I basically do everything out of my pocket to help the community," he said, "I agree with them."
The civil rights groups call it 'Economic Disparity." They claim city dollars are being spent in other parts of the city, but not in theirs.
"There's nothing visible that he can show us that he does for the black community," Wilcox said.
So they're protesting the January 2018 MLK breakfast by pulling out. Now they are putting their support behind the 2018 Black Ministers' Conference MLK Breakfast.
This is the statement from Mayor Curry's office:
Following last year’s MLK breakfast, the mayor, upon receiving the attached letter, extended to Mr. Rumlin several invitations to meet. A few of them are as follows –
• On Jan. 24, Mr. Rumlin canceled a scheduled meeting with the mayor.
• On Jan. 31, the mayor went to Mr. Rumlin’s office to meet and discuss concerns about the 2017 breakfast, which was one of the largest in recent history.
• On Oct. 31, Mr. Rumlin and Pastor Wilcox did not attend a meeting with the mayor, coordinated by JSO Chaplain David Williams.
• Currently, Pastor Wilcox has a scheduled meeting with the mayor this week.
• On Nov. 6, both Mr. Rumlin and Pastor Wilcox received an invitation to attend a Nov. 28 planning meeting for the MLK breakfast.
Based on Mr. Rumlin’s letter where he expressed the NAACP’s continued interest in supporting the 2018 MLK breakfast and conversations with Mayor Curry, we were all rather surprised to receive this most recent letter.
The mayor greatly values and supports this annual observance, which reflects and celebrates the spirit of his administration - One City. One Jacksonville. In an effort to build on these efforts and promote greater inclusiveness and representation of diverse communities, the mayor commissioned a Host Committee to help plan the event. Both Mr. Rumlin and Pastor Wilcox have been invited to participate (attached). We look forward to the valuable input and participation of committee members in our efforts to host a breakfast that serves as a fitting tribute to Dr. King and his legacy.
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