Displayed prominently in the living room of Ruth Benjamin’s Palatka home is a framed photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose message has special meaning to her.
“Although he was never (in Palatka) physically, his message is here,” said Benjamin, the founder of the African American Cultural Arts Council of Putnam County, “That is what our organization and our events we try to carry on, to make sure that his message is never lost.”
On Monday, Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Day, the African American Cultural Arts Council will sponsor a parade and events at Palatka Riverfront Park to help keep the Civil Rights leader’s message from being lost.
The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. and travels from the City’s Post Office down St. Johns Avenue to the riverfront, where the group will hold an event that lasts until 4 p.m.
On Saturday, January 13, the group will hold a commemoration breakfast at the Calvary Family Life Center, 1414 Bronson St., starting at 9 a.m. The keynote speaker for the breakfast is Pastor Christon Lee, and aspiring youth from county high schools will be recognized. The event is sold out but will held next year.
“Dr. King influences our events, our actions, and our hope that we can somehow make Palatka a better place.” said Benjamin, “His whole message was bringing people together. It was never just a message for black people. He was for all people, and so that’s what we want to promote: Dr. King’s message of unity.”
“That is very important for Palatka. Unity here strengthens the City and the county’s unity in the state. It’s like a snowball effect; if you can unify here and unify the next County and the next county. Eventually, we will have a stronger State and Nation.” she continued.
“We want to bring the community out to the riverfront event, the parade, and the breakfast. These are all events to draw attention to Martin Luther King and what he stood for.” she said, “These are going to be great community events. We will have dancers and greetings from various community leaders. We’ll have food vendors and merchandise, such as clothing and jewelry.”
More information about the African American Cultural Arts Council can be found on their website,