TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Rotary Club of Tallahassee Southside made it their mission to bring together 1,000 young people to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
They met young volunteers Monday at Anita Favors Plaza.
Instead of the young people spending their day off, they spent it on duty and in service to the community.
"One of the things youth asked for on this day of MLK service was an event that would help them to kind of be impactful in the Tallahassee area," said Will Power Innovation Network Director Dr. Wilie Williams, who helped organize the event. "So, we chose to come and clean up the Anita Favors Plaza, FAMU Way and a little bit in the neighborhoods off of FAMU way."
Anita Favors herself showed up to support their efforts and said, "I'm so proud to have all of these young people here, learning a civics lesson on the day of Martin Luther King's anniversary celebration."
A civic lesson Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil says is timely, particularly as young black children work to change the starting statistics recently revealed in the Anatomy of a Homicide report.
"If they can become engaged and understand that they are in fact the generation that's going to make this world a better place if they can see that, and we can get that materialized in their mindset, then we can get then to start making those changes," said McNeil.
Community leaders say their efforts embody the spirit of service Dr. King strove for, and hope it helps make a lasting difference in Tallahassee and Leon County.
"This is the start of a movement," said Southside Rotary Club president Christic Henry. "We've been trying to figure out ways to catalyze this movement of youth, getting them in service, getting them activated in advocacy, and this is how we do it. We bring them together, we give them something to do, and then we build upon that."
Young participants seem to be on board with their plans.
"It's a beautiful thing, really," said volunteer Ahmari Williams. "It brings people together, and that's what Dr. King really wanted."