Thousands of people lined the downtown Athens route of the community’s first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday parade on Monday afternoon.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Mokah Jasmine Johnson, leader of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, told the Athens Banner-Herald before the parade commenced on Hull Street and headed to Jackson Street, where the route returned to the center of downtown.
Johnson and her husband, Knowa, planned the event through the AADM and their event production company, United Group of Artists Live. Dozens of marchers, a drumming unit, antique and classic cars and motorcycles assembled to celebrate the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968.
Parade participants included marchers from the AADM, the Economic Justice Coalition, Rhema Christian Fellowship, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Athens-Oconee Court-Appointed Special Advocates, the Georgia Climate Change Coalition, Clarke County Democrats and Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson.
Johnson said she hadn’t expected the inaugural parade to attract as many participants as it did.
Among the spectators was Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Melissa Link, who has noticed the lack of diversity in attendance at downtown Athens events.
“This is awesome,” Link said. “It’s long overdue.”
“I feel like it’s happening,” she said, and she hopes that participating in or watching Monday’s parade will inspire people to march for other causes.
That hope was also shared by Broderick Flanigan, a local artist who is part of a group of emerging black leaders in Athens.
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