Parade delights residents with music, message

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — Music, voices, candy and beads filled the air as participants in Natchez’s Martin Luther King Jr. parade made their way downtown Monday afternoon.

Churches, businesses and individuals were represented as the parade traveled down Franklin Street to Martin Luther King Street.

And for some participants, this year’s ride through town held a special place in their hearts and minds.

Email newsletter signup

“To me, this is the first parade after realizing the dream come true,” Natchez resident Pat Jefferson said.

Jefferson said since last year’s parade was before President Obama’s inauguration the following day, she considers this to be the first parade that can add a black president to the list of strides the United States has taken since King’s “I have a dream” speech.

“Even though Obama is president, he still has other people (from different backgrounds) working with him, and I believe that is what Martin Luther King’s dream was — everybody working together,” Jefferson said.

Parade participant and Natchez resident Pat Carroll said the history and feelings associated with the celebration of King’s birthday are what set the parade apart from other parades that travel through Natchez.

“(The parade) is a commemoration of our history and what we’ve striven for and all that Dr. King promoted,” Carroll said. “It reminds me of the sacrifices that our people have made.”

Carroll said she also sees the parade as a chance to celebrate the positive changes that have occurred throughout the years.

“Although we have a long way to go, we are so much further along than where we were,” Carroll said. “When I was a pre-teen in the ’60s, when we gathered it was to protest, but now it’s a celebration.”

For Natchez resident Aja Carter, 8, the parade marks the second one she’s been in, and is seen as a reason to celebrate the life of a man who helped change America.

“My favorite part of the parade is when we all celebrate for Martin Luther King,” Carter said.

Standing along Franklin Street, Angela Stanton and son, Kenny Fitzgerald, 5, waited as bands and vehicles passed by.

For Stanton and Fitzgerald, both residents of Natchez, the parade is an opportunity to support their family.

“I like watching my uncle. He plays the trombone,” Fitzgerald said.

Stanton said while she’s marched in her fair share of parades, sharing the history of the Martin Luther King parade with her son sets it aside from the others.

“It’s good to see all the people come out to celebrate the accomplishments (Martin Luther King) made,” Stanton said. “Half of us will never do half of what he did. (King’s life) is something to teach the kids about so they will do well in life.”