TAMPA, Fla. — On this year's MLK day, people across the Tampa Bay area gathered to reflect on the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He would have turned 94 years old on Sunday but was killed in 1968 at the age of 39.
King helped drive the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
This year marks 60 years since the March on Washington and Dr. King's speech demanding civil rights, jobs and freedom.
"I have a dream that one day my four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," King said in the speech.
On Monday, as the civil rights icon's legacy is celebrated, some are reflecting on that dream.
Hillsborough NAACP President Yvette Lewis said, "The dream is on its way. We have not yet quite fulfilled his dream. We must not let our voice go dead or quiet."
According to Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida has 53 hate groups, the second most in the country after California.
Moreover, according to a 2022 Pew Research Study, 63 percent of Black Americans say racism is a big problem in the U.S. today.
However, Lewis said equality is not just the absence of hate, but equal opportunity for success.
"There's a lot to do with criminal justice reform, equitable housing, the quality of the schools our kids attend," Lewis said.
She said acknowledgment of a troubled past, and not labeling it as "woke" ideology, is key to reaching Dr. King's dream six decades later.
"The struggle is real and we're still in here and we're not going anywhere," Lewis said.