Previous articleThere will be more than birds at BirdapaloozaNext articleTip: Markeith Loyd may have changed his appearance Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR In my opinion it is not a matter of not serving the needs of the people, it is a jurisdiction problem. I think the COA is doing its fair share to make the community a better place for the south Apopka area within their corporate borders. They are improving the Alonzo Williams Park, doing some paving that is needed in the area, are helping find youths summer jobs, and are responding to residents in the southern boundaries within the city’s borders when they come forth and ask for certain requests of help on issues. They have added more police to the force also. People that want annexed can request to be annexed into the city from the county. The policy has always been that way, and if feasible, the city will honor their request, once the city looks at it, and after the resident is told the details, and costs if applicable. What I have seen is that most of the people wanting South Apopka county residents annexed into the City of Apopka are speaking for others that live in the county, yet the ones pushing for the annexations don’t live in South Apopka themselves, although they may have grew up there themselves. It is true. Many of the South Apopka Orange Co. residents actually don’t want annexed into the COA, and it is a fact. However, I agree, the South Apopka county residents do deserve better, and that is why they need to keep at the Orange Co. Commission, especially with help for the crime problem, because unless the crime is clamped down on, business enterprises will be leery of opening a business there, and people will continue to be afraid to move about in their neighborhood, and people will not want to build homes there, or buy an existing home there. If the county kicks in with more help, and keep it mind they have been trying hard to make the county in that area better, will the violence stop then? I honestly don’t know, as it is everywhere. UF/IFAS in Apopka will temporarily house District staff; saves almost $400,000 You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here Florida gas prices jump 12 cents; most expensive since 2014 Please enter your comment! Please enter your name here Mama Mia January 17, 2017 at 5:50 pm Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply Gov. DeSantis says new moment-of-silence law in public schools protects religious freedom Would violence, poverty and lack of opportunity thwart his optimism?OpinionBy Reggie ConnellThe South Apopka Ministerial Alliance held its 8th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade yesterday. The parade route went through the heart of South Apopka on Marvin C. Zanders Avenue south past MA Board Street and Michael Gladden Boulevard, then turned right on 13th Street and finished at The John Bridges Center.That’s a pretty mundane lead paragraph but bear with me. There is a lot of history in those first two sentences. More on that later, but indulge me just a bit more. Pretend that in this parade, Martin Luther King Jr. himself walked the route.What would Dr. King think about South Apopka in 2017?As he walked along, he would see that this parade has a completely different feel than most. Instead of a “Main Street” venue, it winds through the South Apopka community. There are houses on both sides of the street. Neighbors barbecue together, drink beer and socialize along the parade route. The streets are narrow and the spectators can interact with those in the parade.And interact they do.The people of South Apopka love Billie Dean, and he loves them right back. The 22-year Apopka City Commissioner rode into the neighborhood on the back of a convertible Ford Mustang like the proverbial prodigal son returning home. He joked with the crowd and said hello to old friends he pointed out along the way. And they ran to the edge of the streets to cheer him, ask him questions, and give him words of encouragement.On this day, Billie Dean was a rock star.I asked several elected officials, leaders and people at the parade to tell me what they thought MLK would say about South Apopka if he was here today. Dean responded by pointing out the divisions that challenge Apopka.“Some changes have been made,” Dean said. “But South Apopka has been segregated from Apopka because it is separated by 10th Street where the city ends and Orange County begins. There’s nothing we can do for them because they are in unincorporated Orange County. They get no amenities except water, and they need a lot more than water. The city is divided by one street – 10th Street.10th Street – the DMZ of Apopka. No discussion of violence, poverty or lack of opportunity can be complete without the mention of the great divide that separates the City of Apopka from unincorporated Orange County. It is no doubt a major factor in all major issues that plague South Apopka.But would Dr. King see this border as a wall?Like Dean, Pastor Hezekiah Bradford is popular in South Apopka. At least a dozen parade watchers yelled at him to run for mayor as he drove past. “I’m not running for office,” he said with a smile. “I’m just here to enjoy this weather and honor Dr. King’s memory.”Bradford is the President of the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance, and one of the people responsible for bringing an MLK parade to Apopka. He is proud of this event and thinks Dr. King would be too.“He (Dr. King) would see the effort and energy put into accomplishing his dreams in a peaceful way to live in harmony. I think he would be proud to see us coming together. Black, white and Hispanic… Men and women… Young and old. Some of these people here may not even know the full story of the MLK parade and what it means for us to have it, but they are here to serve their community and keep Dr. King’s dream alive.”Rod Love is an Apopka businessman and an occasional, unofficial spokesperson for the Alliance. He believes MLK would look to bridge the gaps by bringing leaders of all types together to embark on a problem-solving journey.“I believe Dr. King would strongly encourage and invite an ethnically diverse group of people (leaders) that believe they are unaffected by what ails communities in despair to pull a chair up to the table, and to assist with tangible solutions. I truly believe Dr. King would appeal to ALL the leaders in Apopka to come together for a common cause and check egos at the door. If one part of Apopka is in despair we all will soon be in despair. Today was a celebration of Dr. King’s legacy, but tonight because of senseless violence, tonight will be another sleepless night for the citizens throughout Central Florida and for families that have suffered the ultimate sacrifice. I believe Dr. King would say, ‘An Individual has not started living until he/she can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.’ “Pastor Richard King is a member of the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance. He too had thoughts on what Dr. King would think, and how his legacy has inspired him.“We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go. That’s the history of the African-American. We’ve come a long way from where we started from. We have a lot of work to do amongst ourselves in building relationships in order for us to keep Martin Luther King’s dream alive. We have to work to make his dream a reality. Our dream is simply the American dream. I can go to the doctor and get a clean bill of health, but when my brothers are struggling with housing, jobs, and health care, then I am hurting too. As a pastor, and like Dr. King, I have to do all I can do to help my brothers who are hurting and struggling.”While 10th Street is the infamous dividing line between Apopka and Orange County, other names on this route tell a different story – Zanders Avenue, Board Street and Gladden Boulevard memorialize three of South Apopka’s great leaders.In 1960, Zanders moved to South Apopka and opened the first funeral home owned and operated by an African-American. He grew into a well-known business owner who refused to turn away customers who couldn’t afford a funeral. He was known as the “Mayor of South Apopka.” Zanders provided scholarships and sponsored sports teams. In 2010, they renamed Lake Avenue as Marvin C. Zanders Avenue. The South Apopka Ministerial Alliance began having a “Marvin C. Zanders” humanitarian banquet to honor the accomplishments of community leaders in his honor.The parade route also passed MA Board Street and Michael Gladden Boulevard. Both roads named after South Apopka residents who, like Zanders, made a difference in their community.Mildred A. Board taught at the Phylis Wheatley School for 45 years. She helped organize Apopka’s first African-American Girl Scout Troop in 1949.Michael Gladden was a civic leader and a businessman for 60 years in South Apopka, and a Navy Veteran who fought in the Korean War.Doug Bankson is an Apopka City Commissioner and also the Lead Pastor at Victory World Outreach Church in Apopka. He too believes Dr. King would see the positive strides taken in South Apopka, but also be taken aback by the violence.“I believe he’d say we’ve come a long ways, but we still have a ways to go. I believe his heart would weep to see our young generation still ravaged by drugs and crime and yet would take hope that the community is coming alive and coming together to seek honest answers and true solutions. I believe he would be pleased with the progress we’ve made in our police and community relations, and that pastors and city leaders would come together and unify around themes of equality, opportunity, personal responsibility, and love of our fellow man.Finally, he would call us again to the standard that men should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”Commissioner Diane Velazquez also thinks King would see the improvements made… particularly in community involvement.“Now, in my third year as Commissioner for the City of Apopka, and marching in my fourth parade to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I can say that Dr. King would be pleased with the changes taking place within our Apopka and the south of Apopka community. It is rewarding to experience the changes taking place in both communities. The involvement by the residents and our community leaders in addressing the needs of our community has given all of us involved a sense of true hope and commitment in the direction the community is heading. In paraphrasing Dr. King, involvement in our community is more than wanting change, it is a willing desire to work as a unit rather than individuals. I see progress with education, with residential and commercial developments and most importantly, I see a community that is willing to commit to its growth. I see a community that is craving for change, but a community that wants to participate and be involved in their future and is encouraged by the partnership that government and the private sector are proposing for this history laced community. Yes, I would like to think Dr. King would say “we still have much work to do, but we are taking strong first steps by working together.” This year’s parade was bigger than ever with a more multicultural participation. It was so refreshing to see.”Commissioner Kyle Becker thinks MLK would expect more of community leaders to improve South Apopka. In fact, he used Dr. King’s words to illustrate his point.“That is a very tough question because I would never claim to know the thoughts of or be able to articulate them in a manner as Dr. King, something he was so gifted at doing. But in short, I think his first reaction would be there is still much to do. In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he said “We have also come…to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” The community of South Apopka has long seen a gradual, if not stagnant, approach and the time to focus on its success is now, through city and county partnerships, as well as accessible and inclusionary programs to promote a one Apopka community.”Greg Jackson has been a member of the parade committee for several years now and was in charge of logistics and the parade lineup in 2017. He is also a guest columnist for The Apopka Voice. He, like Becker is not certain Dr. King would be as optimistic about the improvements, but rather more critical of the current state of affairs in South Apopka.“Dr. King and I are members of the same fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and If he were alive today I believe he would have this to say about South Apopka: That he sees the continued struggles facing the people living in South Apopka. There has been progress, in a sense, with the paving of roads, renovation of the schools, funding for programs at the Bridges Center, etc., but still there exists a disparity in the services and attention given to South Apopka. There are literally streets or dirt roads that if you drive down them, you drive back in history. There is a level of poverty on the Southside of Apopka that should not exist in this day and age, and does not exist in other areas of this proud city. The housing, business growth, and economic opportunities that are thriving on the Northside of 441, are vaguely reflected on the Southside of 441. There is certainly support for there to be “One Apopka,” but from one side of 441 to the other it is clear that for now, there are two Apopka’s with dueling existences. But, there is certainly hope and a chance for a brighter future for all Apopkans, if more effort is given to working together with the goal of the Northside and Southside of Apopka being mirror-reflections of each other economically.”But what would Dr. King’s takeaway be?There were a diversity of opinions on that question, but no consensus. Would he leave South Apopka feeling good about the improvements made or bad because of the work needed to be done?Would he stand up and applaud the coming upgrades to Alonzo Williams Park? Or would he walk south past 13th Street and think he traveled into a third-world country?Would he be pleased with the Apopka Community Task Force for their efforts to take on violence in South Apopka? Or would he be shocked by the shooting deaths that seem to be a part of the day-to-day life for the residents there?Would he accept the excuse that the border on 10th Street means nothing can be done for South Apopka? Or would he point to a Samaritan border that Jesus crossed that made all the difference in the world?At the end of the day, I think Dr. King would have had a lot to say both inspiring and constructive about the state of things in South Apopka. I think he would have enjoyed the parade. In his day, marches down city streets rarely involved adoring fans like Commissioner Dean and Pastor Bradford enjoyed. In his day, marches often ended in beatings, fire hose blasts, dog bites and arrest.I believe Dr. King would have fallen in love with the people of South Apopka. I think he would be pleased that Commissioner Dean, Representative Kamia Brown, Representative Val Demings, Sheriff Jerry Demings, and many other African-Americans are elected officials.And in Heaven, I think he is probably good friends with Mildred Board, Michael Gladden and Marvin Zanders.“Congratulations on a great parade Apopka,” King might say. “Now let’s get back to work.” 1 COMMENT Reply Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.