Charleston King Day parade set for Monday

By CLAY MCFERRIN,

Charleston’s 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade and memorial program will be held Monday.

The events, which coincide with the national observance of the civil rights leader’s birth, are sponsored each year by a local committee.

The parade will start at 11 a.m., said Carolyn Johnson, one of the organizers, who noted that parade lineup will begin at 10 on the old SuperValu parking lot, now site of a county office complex.

Army veteran Joseph  Wilson has been selected as the grand marshal of this year’s parade, Johnson noted.

Among the groups invited to entertain during the parade are bands from Charleston and North Panola schools, explained Johnson.

The public is encouraged to take part in the procession.  There is no entry fee.

“All participants are welcome, including churches, clubs and organizations, civic groups and individuals who might enter a float, vehicles and walkers,” Johnson added.  “We would like for them to call and let us know if they are going to participate.”

Parade entrants may contact Johnson at 647-1346 or Lillie Smith at 625-2055.

Johnson said the parade will follow its usual route westward along Walnut Street, turn north onto Franklin, east onto Main and round the south side of the courthouse before turning north onto Martin Luther King Drive en route to the final destination, New Town Missionary Baptist Church.

Immediately following the parade, at approximately noon, a special memorial program celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King will begin at New Town church, which is located at 801 King Drive.

Monday’s Charleston festivities, and similarly styled celebrations planned across the United States, are a part of the federal holiday begun in 1986 to observe King’s birthday on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of his actual birthday, Jan. 15.

King, who once came to Charleston as part of his work for nonviolent activism and social reform during the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old.  The Lorraine is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum.

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