By Greg Jackson, Esq.
Sitting on my couch in the comforts of my home, listening to the wind blow and watching the lightning flash as my family and I waited for the tornado watch to end, I was able to reflect on a few of the events from this past week. Locally, like most folks in Central Florida, I breathed a sigh of relief when the murderer, Markeith Loyd, was captured. I was equally astonished by the fact that not a single person claimed even a penny of the $125,000.00 Crime Line reward because no reliable "tips" came from the community. Politically, I watched with some interest the inauguration of our country's 45th president, Donald Trump. I was intrigued by the unprecedented marches that were staged not only in the United States but across the globe to protest the election of President Trump. In sports, I saw my Dallas Cowboys fall out of Super Bowl contention and followed the back-and-forth banter of the former pound-for-pound boxing world champion, Floyd "Money" Mayweather, and UFC superstar, Conor McGregor, through UFC President, Dana White, as they posted about fighting for a combined $50 million-plus payday. I was amazed that they discussed this gargantuan amount of money for a pugilistic endeavor that will never happen as casually as some of us will ask a friend for a stick of gum.
But, of all the week's events, what stood out to me most, interestingly enough, is the City of Apopka’s snub of the 8th Annual Martin Luther King Day Parade. Not knowing the full situation, what I do know is that in years past the City of Apopka has contributed to and participated in the MLK Parade, which travels through the City of Apopka’s incorporated and unincorporated sections. Additionally, in previous years each member of the Commission has been provided a vehicle by the City to ride in the parade. Serving on the MLK Parade Committee for the fourth consecutive year, when I was handed the Parade Participant Rooster I was very surprised to see that the City of Apopka was not included. Thankfully, all but one commissioner was able to secure a vehicle to participate in the parade and the Vice Mayor took up the slack to offset any further embarrassment, but the question still remains as to what happened with the City’s official and much-needed support.
While I fully understand budgetary considerations and the need to follow proper protocol in requesting municipal funds for community events, with an occasion as significant as the MLK Parade, which commemorates the life of one of the truly great leaders of the past 100 years, this was not the time to stand on “pomp and circumstance”. But rather, this was an opportunity to promote the idea and importance of "One Apopka" or "Apopka Beginnings and Endings with 'A'", by showing all that the City stands together with and recognizes all residents of Apopka, incorporated and unincorporated alike. I also suspect that there is a perfectly good explanation and a backstory as to the absence of the City of Apopka, but in a time when Apopka’s residents are fighting against a dual existence -- North and South, old ideas and new ideas, Black/ Hispanic and White, etc. -- I would rather see more of an effort to work together. Could you imagine an Apopka Christmas Parade without the City’s official presence or support? Well, I could not and I still cannot, but unfortunately, I witnessed such an absence at the MLK Parade and I can tell you I hope to never experience that disappointment again. So, no matter the politics, personal feelings or finances, I hope that all parties involved will come together and find a way to make every event in Apopka a great one, whether it be a parade, festival or Chili-CookOff (hint, hint). At this fragile time, Apopka cannot be bogged down with petty differences, every resident deserves to feel the support and “love” of those elected to represent and speak for them – in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a past Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.
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