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News Story
Updated: 01/14/2018 08:30:01AM

MLK’s march for social justice lives on

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SUN PHOTO BY GARY ROBERTS

Fran Holleran, professional development specialist at Charlotte County Public Schools, addresses a large crowd at the 12th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast, hosted by the Blanchard House Museum. Seated are FGCU President Michael Martin and new Punta Gorda Police Chief Pamela Davis.

FGCU President Michael Martin was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s MLK Community Breakfast.

Edward Wotitsky accepts the 2018 George Brown Humanitarian Award for his father, the late attorney Leo Wotitsky, who served in the Florida Legislature and helped establish the Blanchard House Museum.

Gordon Bower, a longtime writer and editor with the Punta Gorda Herald and Charlotte Sun, was presented the Lt. Charles P. Bailey Spirit of Achievement Award.

First-place honors go to Willow Carpenter, of Meadow Park Elementary, with the second-place award given to Jordan Ortiz, of Sallie Jones Elementary.

With the Essay Contest Committee looking on, Lily Mortimer reads her first-place composition at Saturday’s MLK Community Breakfast. Both Mortimer and runner-up Caleb Whitmore, at right, attend Murdock Middle School.

Reed Taillon, of Charlotte High School, earned second place in the MLK Essay Contest. First-place winner Madison Burton, also of CHS, was unable to attend Saturday’s breakfast.

Abraham Coleman and Martha Bireda present John (Billy) Williams, at right, with the Community Elder Recognition Award. Williams was the first African-American contractor in the area and helped train other black men in the construction industry.

Abraham Coleman and Martha Bireda present John (Billy) Williams, at right, with the Community Elder Recognition Award. Williams was the first African-American contractor in the area and helped train other black men in the construction industry.

By GARY ROBERTS

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PUNTA GORDA — Speaking at Saturday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast, new Florida Gulf Coast University President Michael Martin planned to talk about the significance of renowned civil rights and social activists he has had the privilege to meet over the years, including Rosa Parks, Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy and Russell Means of the American Indian Movement.

Instead, it was a new FGCU class, and the virulent backlash to its title, that provided the thrust to his keynote address. The sociology course “White Racism” has drawn national attention for the public’s reaction, marked by a torrent of threats and racial slurs that prompted two campus police officers to be stationed outside the classroom.

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