King remembered on the Suncoast

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LAUREL, Fla. - Sandra Terry has lived in Laurel her whole life. She's seen a lot of change. "I was here when they had the colored fountains and the white fountains. You had to sit in the back of the bus and all that stuff."

She also remembers having to be bussed to the non-white school and when Caspersen was the only black allowed beach in Sarasota County among other rules. "They had an ordinance on their book where if you were colored you were not allowed to be in the city of Venice after dark unless you were working for somebody."

Many of those things began to change around the time of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Terry who shares the same birthday as King believes his influence was far felt. "I think Dr. King came along and showed people that if it was wrong you can do something about it. You may go to jail. You may get sprayed with a hose." Or in his case someone might kill you.

Terry says first and foremost it took a great man to speak out. "I see him first as a man. Then I see him as a minister. Then I see him as somebody who really put himself out there. He didn't have to do that."

Terry who's name now appears above the community center in Laurel herself had a dream to get services to the area. Something which might have never happened if not for those who spoke up and those of all races who listened. "He fought and got to enough people that those peoples minds changed. It prompted them to do things that brought about real change."

A lasting impact on civil rights Terry says we can all be thankful for. "He truly was a humanitarian. He wanted everyone to have the same rights and freedoms. It wasn't just about colored people. It was about everybody."