SARASOTA, Fla. - Although today marks the official Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the celebrations began earlier this weekend.
The annual NAACP MLK Unity Worship Service was held Sunday by the Sarasota branch. The service took place at Bethel CME Church in Sarasota.
15 years ago, the Sarasota NAACP started the annual service to honor the legacy of Dr. King and promote social justice. The message of the service: Unity to strengthen our community.
"Having this annual Unity Service to bring the community together, not only the African American community, but the community as a whole, bringing everyone together, crossing racial barriers and bridges to be on the unified front,” said
The service also celebrated the 100 years of Newtown -- a historic core of North Sarasota's African-American community.
In Palmetto this weekend, the 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade took to the streets. The event in Manatee County began at Lincoln Middle School on 17th Street East in Palmetto.
Hundreds in the community came together to celebrate and cheer on local high school marching bands and cheerleaders. Lakewood Ranch High School, and Palmetto High School's Army Junior ROTC program were among the many participants.