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Miami Herald - 4/2/03

Miami area tries to Reclaim the Dream
By Andrea Robinson

It's been 35 years since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Baptist preacher and preeminent civil rights leader, was silenced forever by an assassin's bullet.

Friday evening, on the anniversary of his death, King's youngest daughter will lead a unity march along the Miami street that bears his name to launch a three-year project to revitalize the boulevard.

Joining the Rev. Bernice King will be a collection of metro Miami's civic and political leaders and hundreds of regular folks. King will deliver a speech that organizers hope will galvanize all racial and ethnic groups toward rebuilding one of the area's most storied streets.

The program, scheduled for 5:45 to 9 p.m. Friday, is titled Reclaim the Dream and is being sponsored by Miami-Dade County, the cities of Miami and Hialeah, the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp., and civic leaders and groups.

The initiative involves numerous cleanup, renovation and construction projects spearheaded by the county, the city of Miami and private investors. Among those are a $1 million renovation of Martin Luther King Park and construction of garden-style apartments. MLK Development officials say parts of the project are under way.

Billy Hardemon, chairman of the development agency, said that bringing Bernice King to South Florida signals the determination to complete the project.

''We wanted to demonstrate that we were taking the revitalization serious,'' Hardemon said. ``The day for rhetoric is over. The community is fed up with empty promises or plans that never have dollars for development.''

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said the Reclaim the Dream theme reflects an effort to craft ``an aggressive and proactive initiative to equip the community to develop viable, sustainable economic self-sufficiency programs as part of a long-term strategy targeting the revitalization of MLK Boulevard.''