ROCKINGHAM — The Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade Committee met Thursday to plan and discuss activities scheduled for Jan. 15-18 in honor of the civil rights leader.
Curtis Ingram, vice chair of the committee, said events will kick off with a prayer breakfast at FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital.
“Then, we’ll do the parade starting Saturday morning at 12 p.m. on East Washington Street,” he said. “Saturday night they will have the youth extravaganza at Leak Street (Educational and Cultural Center), and also that Monday we will do the dinner, which will be held in Ellerbe at Bishop Simpson’s place. It can hold about 700 people.”
Guest speakers are still being lined-up for the events, Ingram said.
“I can tell you that, for the parade, Gracie Jackson …(former Dobbins Heights town council member) will be the grand marshal this year,” he said. “We’re glad to have her, and also we have many of our youth involved. We encourage everyone to come out and participate in the parade. Orrick McDougald is another chairperson in the parade this year. All the local mayors will come and speak during a brief program, that will last less than an hour. And Sheriff Clemmons will speak, also.”
The parade will commence up East Washington Street, turning at Harrington Square and continuing in the direction of the Richmond County Judicial Center, then make a left and stop into Courtroom A inside the old courthouse.
“There will be singing from the Richmond Senior High School Choir,” he said. “And there will be guest speakers.”
Ingram said groups are encouraged to register to walk or ride floats in the parade.
“We want banners and floats both this year,” he explained. “We want it to get as big as possible, and we want a diverse parade where everyone can participate. We just began the registration Dec. 1, so there are different ones calling now and getting registered.”
Ingram said that each event will feature something special for everyone to enjoy.
“And the MLK Choir, which Mr. Clyde Watkins started, are going to start practicing at Leak Street at 7 o’clock,” he said. “And they encourage diversity there. They want anyone who is interested to come out and be part of the choir also.”
It is the committee’s hope that, especially at this time in U.S. history, more people of all races will take advantage of the opportunity celebrate the legacy of peace King left to the world.
“We just want everybody to integrate together,” he said. “Because we all bleed red. We just want everybody under the same accord.”
Asked what he thought King would say to the world today if he were still alive.
“I think that he would tell us to pray,” Ingram said. “He would tell us to pray, and pray together. We need more love, and greed has taken over a lot of things. We’ve gotten away from the basics. I think sometimes we need to go back to, I call it Mayberry, because we’ve become so attached to technology. And technology is good, but if he were here today, he would tell us to pray.
“We’re not always going to agree, and that’s fine,” he continued. “But we agree to disagree, but we agree to do it and move on and to definitely have God in our life and in our heart, also.”
To register for the parade, contact Ingram at 910-331-6042.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.