30 Years Have Passed, Yet We Don’t Know How The MLK Parade Is Financed

The city of Tampa is about to have their annual Martin Luther King Day parade, but despite speculation for years now we still don’t have any clue as to how it is financed.

Sevell Brown, the main organizer, has used the more than $500,000 in city funds and services over the past decade for the parade, but nobody knows how. “From day one, people have wondered whether any money was made and where it goes,” said council member Wengay Newton.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that the Dr. King events run by Brown garner far less financial scrutiny from the city than other similar annual events, though, including the St. Pete Pride.

The popular MLK parade, now in its 30th year, is often touted as the largest in the Southeast, and it is one of the only parades designated as a free speech event.

“The (indigency) committee should take into account any money that might be raised by the event. … I believe you should be able to ask for an accounting at the end of the event and see if they made a profit and could contribute to those services,” City Attorney John Wolfe said. “As far as I know they have not. I’m not sure if that’s ever happened.”