Coalition, officials strengthen parade
Fort Myers News Press
The traditional Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in Fort Myers carried a different banner on Monday, depicting a situation that might take this country into its next civil rights struggle.
"I am a human being" read a banner carried by a farmworker from the Coalition for Immokalee Workers. Farmworkers, by virtue of their hard work feel they have the right to speak directly with their employers about wages and working conditions, something that has been denied them for years. They're calling for the same treatment other workers enjoy.
So it was only fitting to see farmworkers, mostly Hispanic and Haitian, marching together with their African-American brothers and sisters in celebration of Dr. King's birthday.
A crowd of about 300 people took part in the parade.
Something else a little different from last year's parade was the great number of children, black children, who marched alongside adults chanting, "We shall overcome."
The lack of public officials at the head of the parade was also noticeable. But we were happy to see Lee County Commissioner John Albion and School District Superintendent Bruce Harter marching behind the parade's front banner.
Lee County has had its share of racial turmoil, much of it because of the hurdles of school desegregation. So we were glad to see Harter at the parade.
We hope more officials will march along with Albion and Harter next year.