Parade focuses on heritage

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 21, 2010

NATCHEZ — Saturday’s Black History Month Parade was a chance to look back and look ahead.

Floats, bands, church groups and social and service organizations paraded through downtown Natchez to show their pride.

Lisa Johnson, president of the Krewe of Janus, which had a float in the parade, said the group participates in the parade to honor the heritage of the black community.

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“Today is a reminder of our heritage,” she said. “It is a way for people to honor the leaders, both nationally and locally, that made a difference in the United States.”

She said participating in the parade is also a way to teach the younger generation about their heritage and inspire them.

The Krewe of Janus replaced the traditional Mardi Gras decorations they used in the recent Mardi Gras parades with poster-sized prints of famous black leaders.

“We don’t want people to forget what has been done before them to give them a better life,” she said. “Some of the younger generation doesn’t realize how far we’ve come because they didn’t live it.

Education was one of the biggest reason Mount Olive Baptist Church in Sibley participated in the parade for the second year. Church member Agnes Davis said the church encouraged the youth department at the church to take an active role in parade.

“We wanted to get our youth out here today because we want them to know their heritage,” she said. “They are learning a lot at school, but there are so many leaders that need to be remembered.”

Davis said while the school-aged church members have observed Black History Month with special lessons and projects, there is still plenty of history to be learned.

“Natchez has and had a large number of influential black leaders,” she said. “We don’t want them to be forgotten or overlooked.

“They set a path for us to follow and further.”

Parade-goer Efetoya Johnson brought her twin daughters, Tomara and Tamara Johnson, 9, to the parade to expose them to the history associated with Black History Month.

Johnson said attending cultural events is something she makes a habit of and hopes that makes an impression on her young daughters.

“I always make a point to attend events related to my culture,” she said. “I want to be a part of it and to learn about it.”

She said her daughters, fourth-graders at McLaurin Elementary School, have learned about pivotal figures in school, both local and national.

“I like learning about black history,” Tomara said. “It is important to learn.”

Tamara said she wanted to learn more about black history.

“There are a lot of important people we need to learn about,” she said.