Parade carries significance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NATCHEZ — He may be gone, but for folks in the Miss-Lou, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams are not dead.

Hundreds of people lined the Natchez street bearing his name Monday to celebrate the federal holiday honoring King’s accomplishments with the annual Natchez parade.

Marching bands, dance troupes and floats ranging from a simple pull-behind trailer to a boat-shaped “freedom ship” made their way through the streets, tossing candy and smiles to those who had gathered to remember the man who preached nonviolence and equality.

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Parade participant Lillie DeShields said she joined in the day’s festivities because of King’s message of unity.

“We know what Dr. King gave all of us, and we are in this together — a diverse family,” she said.

“He didn’t make good just for some folks, he made it good for everybody.”

Twelve-year-old Kendria Washington, who marched in the parade with a local Girl Scout troop, agreed.

“He had a dream to let kids know that if you are black or white you are family,” she said.

Natchezian Chris Tucker, 15, said he appreciates King’s work because of the doors the civil rights movement has opened up for him.

“I appreciate what he left us, how he helped make it possible for us to realize our dreams,” he said.

Tucker’s younger sister, Amelia, 9, agreed King’s legacy shows how one man can change society.

“He made our country better,” she said.

Local Kerrian King, 9, said she celebrated King’s legacy because his message will be relevant as long as there is injustice in the world.

“His fight is not settled, not ever,” she said.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Jan. 15, 1929, and the holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of January, a date chosen for its close proximity in dates to King’s birthday.