MLK parade celebration honors more than civil rights leader

Posted Monday, Jan. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- The parade honoring Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday was a convergence of three historic events.

Not only did it celebrate the birth of the civil rights leader, but it also commemorated the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago on Jan. 1 and recognized the beginning of the second term of Barrack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States.

Tre Garrett, 31, artistic director of the Jubilee Theater, said Monday was a day to remember.

"The celebration of our freedoms with King, the enactment of our freedoms, with the remembrance of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the possibility of our freedoms, with Obama's inauguration," Garrett said. "Today we are inaugurating a president and celebrating a King."

After the parade came to an end, Garrett helped present re-enactments illustrating a fictional meeting between King and Malcolm X and a speech King gave announcing the Montgomery bus boycott. The event was held at the Water Gardens at about noon.

Malcolm X, a civil rights leader with his own following and formerly a minister for the Nation of Islam, was assassinated in 1965, three years before King was gunned down in Memphis. Marching bands played as dignitaries such as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Councilman Frank Moss and state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, looked on.

"It's a special day for America," said Alayna Torrance, 37, as her three daughters, 14, 9 and 4, perched upon a base of a light post and took everything in. "Even though we have so far to go, we are still making progress."

Torrance did not believe poll data released by the Associated Press in October that showed attitudes toward African-Americans had worsened during the four years that Obama had been president. The poll showed that 51 percent of Americans expressed anti-black attitudes compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey.

"I think that's an unfair assumption," Torrance said. "It's always been there. I don't think it will ever change. I think fewer people are hiding their ignorance. People have lost the ability to mask their feelings."

Sarah Walker said her nephew, Matthew Durst, 7, had been lobbying to be taken to the MLK parade and will also get an opportunity to see the Cowboys of Color Rodeo this year because a video shown at Oakmont Elementary spurred his interest.

The video showed that "Martin Luther King was a good man," Durst said.

American can never afford to forget or shed this piece of history, Walker said.

"We must continue to do this or else our children will not know where we came from," Walker said.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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