Parade honors black history

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2000

Donna Sledge drove 346 miles from Montgomery, Ala., and braved chillier than expected temperatures Saturday to see her niece in the Black History Month parade in downtown Natchez.

&uot;If it had not been for her, we wouldn’t be braving this cold weather,&uot; Sledge said of niece Kanieces Fletcher, who is a majorette in the Ferriday High School Band.

With the temperatures hovering around 51 degrees when the parade rolled at 12:15 p.m. at the foot of Main Street, many parade-goers were grateful for the jackets they had the foresight to wear.

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Sledge, like many others, had come to see a loved one in the parade. Fletcher’s cousin, Brandy Payne, also traveled from Alabama for the parade. Fletcher’s grandmother, Ethel Potters, drove across the river from Ferriday.

Running from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., the parade was a colorful mix of floats, bands, choirs, local officials and church groups. Starting with a Natchez police car, fire truck and ambulance, it ended with both the Too Hot To Trot and Hawks riding clubs.

The theme for the parade was &uot;Rich Tradition, Bright Future,&uot; and included such dignitaries as Dr. Carl Davis, superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District, Dr. Steve A. Favors, president of Grambling State University, Judge Mary Lee Toles and Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders.

Branson White, 10, waited for the parade along Franklin Street.

&uot;I came to the parade because we learn about black history,&uot; he said. His younger brother, Christopher Spenser, 8, said he came because of famous black heroes that are featured in the parade.

&uot;I came to the parade to celebrate Martin Luther King,&uot; he said.

Virginia Hargrave was sitting along Franklin Street, waiting for her two children to march by in the parade. Her daughter LaToya Hargrave was in the Natchez High School JROTC and her son Kevin Hargrave was a member of the McLaurin Elementary mass choir that performed.

&uot;I come out every year — whether they’re in it or not,&uot; she said.

Mary and Willie Jones huddled in a storefront along Franklin Street waiting to see their 7-year-old daughter Olivia as a member of the Mount Zion Chapel No. 2 choir. Grandmother Irene Smith waited with them.

&uot;We bundled her up good,&uot; Mary Jones said.