Annual MLK parade draws crowd, bands and celebrities

Published 10:49 pm Saturday, January 14, 2017

The community came together Saturday afternoon in downtown Vicksburg to mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a parade, a cookout and four world champion boxers.

During the 2 p.m. parade down Washington Street, former heavyweight champion boxers — Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer and James Toney — each rode through the parade route in a separate vehicles smiling, waving and talking to the crowd gathered on the street. The four boxers were the grand marshals of the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Vicksburg.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Ronnie Smith attended the parade to honor Martin Luther King Jr. He was also interested in seeing the boxers scheduled to ride through town.

“It’s a good celebration,” he said, adding he comes to the parade every year.

He said it is important to commemorate the holiday weekend through events like a parade because of all the hard work and sacrifice Dr. King experience fighting for equality.

“It’s mostly about the courage and the sacrifices they made back in the day for us to be living like we are living today,” he said.

City and county officials and law enforcement drove by in their patrol cars, cruisers and motorcycles waving to the people as they passed on the street. Local members of the NAACP also took part in the parade. The crowd cheered each vehicle that passed.

“I like parades especially this day, Martin Luther King,” Pat Bingham said.

Bingham was looking forward to seeing the bands, and Shayon Yarrington was excited to see Holyfield, an African American man who became known for exceling in athleticism, he said, implying Holyfield’s success is due in part to King. Yarrington said celebrating King is important because it changed the course of history.

“He fought for our rights, that’s the reason why we had President Obama,” Yarrington said. “Without him, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Greek organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta came out in full force walking, and some riding in vehicles, on the brick lined street.

The children in the James “Fuzzy” Johnson Baseball League also took to the street carrying their banner proudly with their coaches.

Leandrew Drake was looking forward to seeing the Vicksburg dance team because his daughter is the school’s dance teacher. He thinks having a parade in honor of MLK Day teaches the younger generation about how things once were.

“If they know of this day, it will give them something to look back and recognize what we, I’m from the other side — I came up in the 50s and 60s, how it was and how it is now,” Drake said.

The Pride of Vicksburg High School Marching Band was the first band in the parade entertaining the crowd with music and dancing.

The Madison High School Band of Tallulah and the Symphony of Soul General Trass High School Marching Panthers from Lake Providence, La. both joined in the parade as well.

The celebration continued in the city farmers’ market lot after the parade with music playing, food cooking on the grill and kids jumping in a bouncy house.

The boxers were seated on a makeshift stage in the open lot to each say a few words as the onlookers gathered.

Once the event organizers, Sylvester Walker and Lawrence Hardge, and city leaders, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, spoke, the public was given an opportunity to take pictures of the men all on stage with fists up and ready.