NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - It’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, and many people across South Florida held parades and street celebrations to honor the life and legacy of the man who fought for the civil rights of everyone everywhere.

Miami-Dade County kicked off a full day of festivities with a parade. Fort Lauderdale followed suit.

Gloria Henderson woke up bright and early with her niece to make sure she understands what the federal national holiday is all about.

“I can remember when he was marching, and we were — my grandmother was marching and wanting to vote and wanting civil rights,” Henderson said, “and I think it’s important that we still celebrate his legacy, and that we still celebrate him and teach our young ones about him also, so happy Martin Luther King Day to you.”

“I think it’s important to me because he did a lot for us,” Henderson’s niece Abigale Thomas said.

Before the parades hit the streets, the dropout prevention and mentoring program called the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project gathered in West Miami-Dade and held its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship breakfast to honor the young men that make up the Class of 2020 and the life and teachings of Dr. King.

“We set aside this day to pay homage to him,” U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said. “We call them the Wilson Scholars, and they will be going to college. They will have no student debt, and we’re proud of them.”

While some participated in parades and celebrations, others honored the civil rights hero with a day of service.

At the YMCA in Fort Lauderdale, Broward College had volunteers making care packages to distribute to the community.

In Miami-Dade County, 600 volunteers from City Year Miami converged on South Hialeah Elementary School to spruce up the campus.

In Northwest Miami-Dade, celebrations were held in and around Martin Luther King Park on Monday.

Young people along the parade’s route shared their thoughts on the civil rights hero’s legacy.

“He fought for the black people,” parade attendee DeWayne Tyler said. “He was a good man.”

“He made sure that black people had the right to go to the same restaurant and go to the same water fountain and go to the same school,” parade attendee Taraji Love said.

“He changed it, and he made it equal for everybody, so I think that’s awesome,” parade attendee Kailee Gallon said.

Miami-Dade Police officers at the Northwest Miami-Dade event said the festivities around the county went smoothly and that Monday was a great family day.

Copyright 2022 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox