Author: Sharon Fletcher Jones

January 11, 2018

The city’s lights, your camera (phones), and all the holiday action make wintering in Orlando one of the best ideas ever! C’mon in, the weather is fine with temperatures almost never dipping below comfortably warm. There are multiple celebrations to be had. The whole family will enjoy the nightly parades at Disney, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios complete with balloons and floats, marching bands, and everyone’s favorite characters. The Mayor’s MLK Commission features a full slate of commemorative events including a Candlelight Vigil and March, the Annual Pappy Kennedy Prayer Breakfast, and a variety of opportunities to participate in ‘day of service’ activities. Parades and other events held in Orlando and in neighboring cities (check out Eatonville, Sanford, Apopka and Oviedo) to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. welcome heritage tourists, one and all.

Less than fifteen minutes away from downtown Orlando is the historic Town of Eatonville. It is the oldest incorporated African American municipality in the country and home of the Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine Arts and the annual Zora! Festival. Named for the renowned author and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston who spent most of her formative years in Eatonville, the festival has been around for almost thirty years celebrating our native daughter and her contributions to American folklore as well as celebrating the works of past, present and future contemporaries. It has been attended by the likes of Ruby Dee and Ozzie Davis (friends of Zora’s during the Harlem Renaissance), Maya Angelou, Danny Glover, Wesley Snipes, Felicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, Bill Cobbs, Russell Hornsby and Brock Peters. Featured festival entertainers include Dr. Bobby Jones, Morris Day and the Time, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Isaac Hayes, and Al Jarreau. Plenary sessions and education programs provide a broad-based study of Zora, the Town of Eatonville, and modern-day influences while street vendors provide a myriad of hand-crafted goods and festival food favorites. The museum is open year-round. It exhibits works by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time and frequently showcases newer, contemporary artists.

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