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Parade celebrates MLK Jr. Day

On Monday, many local citizens met at the Decatur County Courthouse to view the opening ceremonies and parade celebrating the area’s observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day—a day that marks the 80th birthday of the prominent American civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Performing at the event for their 10th year was the Potter Street Elementary Honors Chorus directed by music educator Shylene Crump. Potter Street Elementary Assistant Principal Jeanette Grimsley introduced the chorus. Abigail McMillan, a fourth-grade member in chorus, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Liz Tomlin, general chairperson for the local MLK Jr. day events, welcomed everyone and introduced several elected officials who spoke at the event. Tomlin also urged everyone to work to bring about change.

“We’re not here just to march or for show, we’re out here to make Decatur County a better place,” Tomlin said.

She urged people to work with community leaders, city officials and educators to improve the quality of life for young people living in Decatur County.

The Rev. Joe Sweet Sr. followed, saying an opening prayer, blessing the day and event.

On behalf of the City of Bainbridge, Mayor Mark Harrell welcomed everyone and congratulated long time Bainbridge City Councilman Luther Conyers on being the parade’s grand marshal.

Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin spoke about the significance of the day in accordance with the inauguration of Barack Obama, which took place the following day on Tuesday.

“We recognize him [King] today, but tomorrow we will see his dream come true,” Griffin said.

He urged all Americans to do their part, always remembering what civil leaders like King have sacrificed to achieve the ultimate goal of equality.

“We have to do our part to make Dr. King proud,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, Chairman Palmer Rich also spoke about the significance of the first African-American president as a part of King’s dream of equality.

“We have to pray for him [President Obama] and do everything we can to support him,” Rich said.

He also noted that there is still a long way to go before there is “brotherhood for all.” Rich encouraged people to support government services and programs that promote equality.

Crum concluded the opening ceremonies by asking those in attendance to join her in a singing of “Victory is Mine.”

Following the opening ceremony, the parade made its way from the courthouse down MLK Jr. Drive to Hutto Middle School where a memorial service took place for King. Many local citizens took part in the parade wearing shirts and holding pictures of King and other African-American leaders, including President Obama.

The 65-member West Gadsden County, Fla., High School Marching Panthers, directed by Rontel Harris, as well as members of the Bainbridge High School Band percussion section took part in the parade.

Several civic organizations that were represented in the parade were the Ephesus 7th Day Adventist Church Pathfinder Club, the Gadsden County, Fla., Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Potter Street Patriots’ Pride Student Council.