Even the rain couldn’t stop the public from coming together for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade downtown, as a variety people with the same purpose marched down Auburn Ave. – to pay tribute to Dr. King.
The march started at 2:00 p.m. with the streets blocked and the masses standing on the sidewalk in anticipation of the parades festivities.
Jamida Orange, executive director and coordinator of the March Committee, reported that the commemoration had been taking place for more than 40 years, stating, “The march has actually been going on even before his birthday was a national holiday.”
Orange went on to say that several different organizations – including, but not limited to, unions, teamsters, businesses, sororities, fraternities, schools and churches – participated in the walk down Auburn. Some groups registered for the event the same day, so a specific number couldn’t be nailed down.
Aside from the organizations that participated in the parade, other groups took this opportunity to get the community involved in other ways. For instance, the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. had a booth set up to register parade goers to vote or other groups that presented information on the current social struggles that society is faced with today.
But regardless of the stance, groups with very different backgrounds came and marched the streets of Atlanta together as one community.
“You have the big businesses and then you have the Occupy, you have the church folk, and then you have the gay and lesbian contingent, you have the unions, and you also have the politicians,” said Orange. “And it gives me hope that we can all come together. It is a process, but we all can come together. We can work together on various issues that plague our community and our nation.”
This is a message that resonated with the crowd as the parade came underway.
Georgia State University student, Andriana Hudson, said “I love how the community came together to celebrate the life of Dr. King.”
Even crowd members that aren’t native to Atlanta came out in support of the march. Virginia native Michael Everett said that he fought for Dr. King all his life. “This is my first time attending a [Martin Luther King Day] march in Atlanta and it’s very enlightening.”
And audience member Michelle Cummings commented on the march, having said, “I love the message and the gathering of people. Everyone’s coming together as one.”
Orange took over coordinating the march after the passing of her father, Rev. Dr. James Orange, who coordinated the event in the past.
“We never lose sight of the fact that we celebrate one of the biggest advocates of peace in the world. I do this to remember my father, but I also do this to remember Dr. King, and I do this to remember Mrs. King because she gets everything on task,” she said.
“We are different and we should celebrate those differences but because of those differences and those various strengths and weaknesses, we can come together to make the world a better place and make it a beloved community.”
Published in the December 2011/ January 2012 Issue of the AABJ Byline: “Community gathers to support the dream in annual King Parade” pg. 12