JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday.
It is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. observed on the third Monday of January each year.
There are events scheduled around Jacksonville to commemorate the holiday weekend -- some started Friday.
Soledad O'Brien joined more than 2,500 people at the City of Jacksonville's 27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Friday morning to honor Dr. King's legacy.
First Coast News' very own Shannon Ogden emceed the annual event that featured O'Brien as the Keynote Speaker.
Special guests included, Mayor Alvin Brown, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Pastor Stoval Weems and Florida Blue's Market President Darnell Smith.
The event began with musical selections by Sandalwood High School, followed by breakfast.
The winners of "Tomorrow's Leaders 2014" were also recognized:
- Deyona Burton - Elementary School Winner (Hendricks Avenue Elementary)
- Kamiyah Trimmings - Elementary School Runner-up (Andrew Robinson Elementary)
- Kenya Jones - Middle School Winner (Matthew Gilbert Middle School)
- Antonio O. Gray - Middle School Runner-up (Kirby Smith Middle School)
- Matthew E. Iglesias - High School Winner (Bishop Kenny High School)
- Jasmyn Dixon - High School Runner-up (Charles B. Eichelberger Learning Academy)
O'Brien gave an inspirational speech that included her family's background and the various race issues they faced growing up.
"I use to ask my mom what it was like to walk around Baltimore in the early 1960s with my two older sisters before they moved to New York, and she said 'you know people use to spit on us.'"
O'Brien said she asked her mom how she would deal with that and her mother responded, "We knew America was better than that, and we knew that just existing would help change the direction it was in."
"Everyone's story matters, and everyone has a legacy to leave behind," said O'Brien.
Mayor Brown announced the new youth initiative during the breakfast that will:
- Increase the Mayor's Summer Job Program and private-sector employer participants
- Enhance teen court and neighborhood accountability boards for first-time nonviolent juvenile, as an alternative to arrest and detention for misdemeanors
- Establish a Young Leaders Advisory Council composed of 50 high school seniors and juniors
The "Let Freedom Sing" event will continue the weekend festivities Saturday. The event takes place at the Milne Auditorium at Edward Waters College from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More than 300 volunteers gathered in the cold weather Saturday morning a rally to kick off the day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.
American Red Cross and AmeriCorps volunteers celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by teaching fire safety and distributing vital information Saturday. Children learned about fire prevention education and promoted home safety through games and activities. Volunteers canvassed door-to-door throughout the local neighborhood, talk with residents and leave behind door hangers with fire safety information near Woodlawn Presbyterian Church.
Saturday, 400 students, teachers and parents honored King's legacy at the Second annual One by One Convention at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
The events culminate with a parade through downtown Jacksonville Monday.Participants in the parade will assemble at Jefferson and Water Streets between 7:00 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. and it is scheduled to end at Metropolitan Park.
A post parade celebration will go from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and feature:
- Greetings From City of Jacksonville
- Battle of the Bands
- Honoring Grand Marshal
- Tribute to the Legacy of Mr. Nelson (Madiba) Mandela
- Tribute to the Legacy of Dr. Chester A. Aiken
- Tribute to the Legacy of Mr. Melvin Austin
- Tribute to the Legacy of Mr. Stetson Kennedy
- "Let Freedom Sing" - Songs That Inspired the Civil Rights Movement