Honoring Black History Month: Reginald Billups seeks ‘community holiday’

Honoring the men and women standing up for what’s right. Reginald Billups – who is from Southwest Florida – spent his life following in Doctor Martin Luther King Jr’s footsteps.

“Birmingham had the nickname of “Bummingham”. That’s because so many bombs were going off. My church just as an example was bombed 3 or 4 times, Billups said of the experience of the area. “When the marches started, I was there marching at the front of the lines. When the sit ins came, I was there sitting in at the counters.”

As a young teenager Billups spent countless hours marching for freedom right behind one of the greatest civil rights leader of all time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But, because he took part in those marches, billups spent quite a few nights behind bars, saying, “I remember dancing with my cousin Butch. I said come on, you want to be my prom date. So we danced in jail together the night of the prom.”

Now, more than 40 years later, Billups and his family live in Fort Myers. But his legacy that started in Birmingham followed him here.

He became part of the Dunbar Festival Committee that started the annual commemorative march on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“My personal goal was not to be thought of as a ‘black holiday’. I wanted it to be a community holiday. I wanted it to be a community holiday where people of all ethnicities would gather together to march together to show a community oneness in Southwest Florida,” he said.

And that oneness is highlighted at his school, the Oxford School of Music.

And unity is Billups main message, “My goal has always been to try to incorporate a love for all people. Bringing us all together.”

Reporter:Chris Grisby
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