A substantial crowd gathered in front of the Morton Theatre on Washington Street yesterday to honor the late Martin Luther King, Jr. While some people held signs, others were setting up stands in preparation for the fourth annual MLK Day Parade and Music Festival organized by the United Group of Artists, an event production company co-founded by Knowa and Mokah Jasmine Johnson.
Mykeisha Ross, vice president of Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, believes the parade exemplifies what King aimed to achieve in communities around the globe.
“I think it’s important for people to come together, show love and meet people you never would otherwise,” Ross said to The Red & Black. “We’re breaking racial barriers.”
During the parade, spectators watched people walk through the streets holding signs with famous quotes from Dr. King.
Vendors selling products including traditional African clothing set up around the sidelines.
Kishina Longino, a vendor for Alicia’s Little Bling Boutique, came from Atlanta to participate in the parade for the first time. After attending the MLK Day parades in Atlanta, she said she wanted to see people show out in Athens.
“To have parades like this goes back to honoring what Dr. King stood for and the fact that he didn’t die in vain,” Longino said. “He stood for millions of people and this day shows we haven’t forgotten.”
Other vendors like Precious Jones with MEplusTEA, a homegrown hand-blended loose leaf tea company, have participated in the parade since it began in 2017. Jones said she feels Athens is a close knit community and the parade is a reminder of that.
“I think Athens is a good example of what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for,” Jones said.
Attending the parade were people from all walks of life such as families and students.
Ross said her favorite part of the parade was its ability to demonstrate that everyone has a story and also explained that events like this help people find their voice.
“You can be black, white, Hispanic, it doesn’t matter, everybody has a story and your voice is your power,” said Ross. “No one else can write your story, so tell it.”
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