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The Passing of a Community Icon - Maurice Mickens
Maurice Mickens leaves behind a legacy of community service and comitment to the arts
By: Clearwater Martin Luther King Jr. Center
Patricia Mickens, his devoted wife, said, "Maurice was true to himself, his Christian beliefs and all that he stood for. I learned many things from him but this stands out, 'You have to be true to what makes you a person."
Maurice's family included 6 children, 21 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Simone Lopez, Maurice's daughter, delivered a beautiful poem in honor of her father and his steadfast support of her.
Rodney Mickens, Maurice's son, said friends from the Bronx reached out to him when they heard of his father's passing. They reminisced on the many positive things Maurice taught them at the Inter Cultural Workshop, an organization he co-founded and ran from 1969 to 1972.
Besides establishing non-profits, working with community activists to reopen the Clearwater Martin Luther King Jr. Center at www.clearwatermlkcenter.org and educating at-risk youth, Maurice wrote and produced plays, concerts and banquets.
"It was our mutual love of the Arts and aesthetics that brought us together, " said Pat Harney of the Church of Scientology and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center Coalition. "And it was our shared goal of improving our community that kept us working together." Maurice founded the Harlem Nights Benefits Productions, several of which he co-hosted at the Church of Scientology's Fort Harrison retreat in downtown Clearwater and was a frequent honored guest of the community events held there.
Born at the tail end of the Harlem Renaissance, and living three blocks from Harlem's Apollo Theater instilled in Maurice the idea that the arts are the lifeblood of any culture, Harney remembered him saying.
"When he walked into a room, people got happier. He was a light and salt of the earth, " said Rev. Dr. Fred Hinson.
"He was my mentor, " said Deacon Joshua Sherman. "He took me to places I never knew existed."
As the choir closed out the service with the rollicking "Freedom" gospel song, Rev. Dr. William Sherman, Mickens' pastor for the past 28 years, remembered a refrain Mickens relayed time and time again, "The spirit is good so the body has to follow."