Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, program held for 15th year

Remembering the dream: The 15th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade winds its way through downtown Clanton on Monday.

Remembering the dream: The 15th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade winds its way through downtown Clanton on Monday.

After a parade through Clanton to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a large crowd gathered under a pavilion at E.M. Henry Park on Monday to talk about that legacy.

The program opened with a welcome from Lucy Binion and a prayer by her husband, the Rev. Robert Binion, both of whom have organized the parade and program for 15 years.

Lorene Ward offered thoughts about the part Rosa Parks played in the Civil Rights movement, recognizing that there were activists other than King who had roles.

“Courage is what got us where we are today,” Ward said. “Sometimes in life, suffering comes before celebration.”

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the National Anthem sung before a performance from the Community Choir of youth.

The Rev. Travis Wimbush with the Chilton County NAACP was thanked by Robert Binion for his help cleaning streets in the West End community before Wimbush addressed the crowd, challenging attendees to become committed first to God and then to themselves.

“We all offer something,” he said.

Other local leaders also shared messages, ranging from the importance of sharing the struggle for equality with the younger generation to carrying on King’s legacy by working together to make a difference.

A member of United AME read part of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech before a praise dance by Morning Star church youth and a mime dance by Hopewell Baptist Church youth.

LaGora Bryant of Clanton Head Start introduced the speaker, Connye Bryant with Hallelujah 104.3 in Montgomery.

Connye Bryant focused on a simple message: “You matter.”

After a brief history of King’s life and work, Bryant said there’s still a “long way to go” in the struggle for equality.

“Today, it’s time to make that dream a reality,” she said.

But Bryant pointed out that where once racism was the sole issue to address, other problems now include crime in black communities.

Bryant said the only way to change families, schools and communities is to “realize that we matter.”

“Don’t try to be like the next person,” she said. “You be the person God created you to be. I encourage you to look at yourself and ask what you can do to help.”

The program concluded with a solo from Kaila Sails.

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