Annual MLK Day parade, program held today

Published 3:45 pm Monday, January 16, 2023

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The man who helped bring hope and healing to America during the Civil Rights Movement was celebrated Monday during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade and program.

The annual event, sponsored by the Concerned Citizens of Atmore (CCA), celebrates the life, legacy and birthday of King, a key figure who worked tirelessly for equal rights.

The annual parade had many participants. Parade lineup began at Houston Avery Park, and the route took the parade down Carver Avenue to Ashley Street to Main Street and then to Ridgeley Street, where the parade ended at Emmanuel Faith Center (EFC).

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This year’s theme was “The Beloved Community.”

Escambia County School System Mental Health Service Coordinator Marlo Young served as the keynote speaker.

Young said King is timeless.

“He was a Civil Rights legend called by God for God,” Young said. “He led a nonviolent movement.”

Young spoke of many things regarding King’s life.

King knew the highest title to achieve is that of being a servant, Young said.

“What cane we do to make a difference in the lives of others,” she said.

Young said King was on a mission for God.

“King believed in the beloved community,” she added. “He loved the community, he loved his race.”

Young spoke about one of King’s most famous quotes, “Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Young said the light King was speaking of is the light of God’s son, Jesus Christ.

“Love is the greatest force in the universe,” she said. “We have to be intentional with our story, and make a better version of it.”

Young encouraged the crowd to self assess and determine how they can be of service to others.

“What are we doing with our between time,” she said.

Young said King made sure to pass a torch that needs to be carried onward.

Earlier in the program, Mayor Jim Staff said a few words, encouraging all to be grateful that we are Americans.

“Isn’t it great to be here and that we need to be looking forward,” Staff said. “King dedicated his entire life to the equality of African Americans.”

EFC Bishop Wayne Johnson, who also serves as the president of the CCA and was the grand marshal, spoke about how important the youth are to the future.

“Don’t curse your fig tree,” Johnson said about the youth.

Additionally, Escambia County Middle School’s Peer Helpers held a presentation, sharing inspirational quotes from King.

Uela McCants Bogan of Atmore, who trained and worked under King during the movement, spoke on her Civil Rights journey.

Bogan, and a group of others, participated in marches during the movement.

She challenged the young people in the crowd to be a mentor to someone.

At the end of the program, presentations from the Atmore Urban Development, PRIMA Girl, B&D Financial, Release, American Red Cross and JSanders media adds developer were held.