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The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Dr. King celebration highlights black excellence in Oviedo community

Black+Student+Union+social+media+manager+Leah+Chery+answers+a+question+during+the+Dr.+King+Celebrations+scholar+bowl.+Hagertys+BSU+faced+off+with+the+Oviedo+High+School+chapter%2C+winning+and+taking+home+a+prize+of+%24300.
photo by Nadia Knoblauch
Black Student Union social media manager Leah Chery answers a question during the Dr. King Celebration’s scholar bowl. Hagerty’s BSU faced off with the Oviedo High School chapter, winning and taking home a prize of $300.

“Justice, Freedom, and Equality for All.”

The City of Oviedo’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration showcased these qualities of life through food, fashion, history and community on Jan. 15. Working with the City of Oviedo Parks and Recreation department, Oviedo Citizens in Action has been celebrating Dr. King’s legacy for over 27 years, according to OCIA president Kathy Hunt.

Starting with a walk from Riverside Park to Round Lake Park, the parade led citizens to the main stage, which featured a DJ, fashion show, awards and a scholar bowl on African American history. Over 15 different vendors, many of which were black-owned local businesses, and community organizations, such as the Seminole County Democratic Party and OCIA, were set up around the stage. Games of corn hole, arts and crafts and home-style jerk chicken filled the space with laughter and connection. While the majority of attendees were black families and citizens, other locals came to show their support, bringing together the Oviedo community to reflect on King’s impact and recognize local accomplishments within the black population. With the fashion show and scholar bowl as new additions to this year’s event, Hunt hopes the activities will encourage more spectators, especially youth, to attend future celebrations.

“My thing is to educate our young people because they’re standing on our shoulders and they need to be that next leader, or Dr. King’s dream will be lost,” Hunt said.

My thing is to educate our young people because they’re standing on our shoulders and they need to be that next leader, or Dr. King’s dream will be lost.

— Kathy Hunt, president of Oviedo Citizens in Action

As a part of Hunt’s mission, OCIA contacted the Black Student Unions of both Hagerty and Oviedo high schools, asking them to participate in an inaugural scholar bowl, where the two BSU cabinets competed in African American history trivia. After answering questions on historical figures from Malcom X, a legendary human rights activist, to Benjamin Banneker, the inventor of the first clock in America, Hagerty’s cabinet won the bowl, taking home a prize of $300 to fund their club.

“The BSU cabinet attended the event last year, but this year we were way more involved,” BSU president Amy Desroches said. “This event was great for the Oviedo and Hagerty BSU community because we were able to spend time with our sister school [in celebration.]”

Aside from the long list of vendors, games and music present at the event, entertainment was constantly present on stage. thanks to the work of junior Misa Gibbs, who serves as BSU vice president and Fashion Club president. Gibbs played an essential role in this year’s activities, creating a two-set fashion show inspired by black designers and figures, modeled by BSU members and Hagerty students.

“We were exposing entrepreneurship, and that’s something that encourages our young people to [attend,]” Hunt said. “People were interested…they were attentive. Everything that we’re doing is with a purpose.”

Gibbs states that the support from her friends and BSU peers is what allowed her show to become a reality.

“I think just for me being a young black girl in a small part of Florida showing her own way of art really just contributes to MLK’s dreams,” Gibbs said. “My overall goal was to basically start my journey on showcasing my progress on what I want to do in the future with design.”

Junior Misa Gibbs presents the second set of her fashion show at the City of Oviedo’s Dr. King Celebration on Jan. 15. Gibb’s found inspiration in black designers and public figures for her pieces, showing both her love for fashion and pride in her community. (photo by Nadia Knoblauch)

Preparations for the event take place immediately after the previous year’s celebration, according to Hunt. Created in 1969, OCIA’s mission statement has been to expose injustice and be a “voice to the underserved in the community.” OCIA’s current goals are to expand their youth program, called the YES Program, and encourage more active participation from younger audiences. Hagerty senior Areli Smith was awarded this year’s “I Have a Dream” Award by OCIA at the event due to her academic achievements and community impacts, entered into the program by a teacher’s recommendation.

“I was very honored to receive the reward. It was unexpected because I didn’t even know I was entered into the competition,” Smith said.

With this year’s new additions, Hunt hopes more Oviedo citizens will participate in future Dr. King celebrations, building a stronger community and appreciation for his mission: equality for all.

“We think that things should be equal. Some things look like [time] is turning backwards, and we want to keep it moving forward,” Hunt said. “The best way to affect change [is] in our young people.”

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About the Contributor
Nadia Knoblauch, Editor-in-chief
Nadia Knoblauch is a senior at Hagerty High School and this is her third year on staff. Nadia has strong passions for journalism and activism, serving as the Vice Chair of Communications for the Florida Scholastic Press Association and Florida Coalition Leader for the United Nations’ Girl Up Initiative. She was named FSPA's Emerging Young Journalist in 2022 and hopes to study Political Science and Journalism in college.
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