Activists say more change is needed at MLK Day march in Lake Worth

Posted at 7:41 PM, Jan 16, 2017

Local activists participated in Lake Worth's 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. candlelight march Monday evening. Every year, various community organizations, churches and school groups come together for the march to commemorate MLK's good works. This year, however, organizers said the group was also marching to recognize that much more still needs to be done.

"When legal segregation was disallowed in the south, when the voting rights bill was enacted, when fair housing was enacted, we thought everything would just come together and be a Utopia," said Ted Brownstein, who's helped organize the march for the past 20 years. "It didn't quite work out so smoothly."

Brownstein said he grew up in the middle of the Civil Rights movement and even went to Martin Luther King Jr.'s rallies. He believes racial relations are still not where they should be.

"Certainly there's been remarkable progress," Brownstein said. "Clearly, there are issues still to go and be worked on."

Reverend Tony Cato of New Hope Missionary, a church in Lake Worth, traditionally leads the prayer for the MLK Day march. Serving as a reverend in one of Lake Worth's predominately African American communities, Cato says he experiences the issues firsthand.

"How would Dr. King be, or how would he feel right now at this point in time? He would be extremely disappointed," Cato said.

Cato says he still sees disparities in education, work opportunities and law enforcement's treatment of African Americans. He says the fight isn't over and if Martin Luther King Jr. were still living, he's still be working toward change.

"He would be getting with the various people who are in the position of authority to be able to provide services and intervene in some of these issues," Cato said.

Cato added that there is a need for more activists to step forward. He said President Barack Obama's milestone presidency as the first African American in the Oval Office was a great step, but as President-Elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, tensions are running high. Cato said his hope is still for a more united country.

"My prayer, as we pray, is for much success for that office of the presidency, because we need it in this country,"Cato said.