MLK Jr. parade winners
• 1st: Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority
• 2nd: First African Baptist Church
• 3rd: Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church
Monday marked the federal holiday dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil-rights legacy, but local participants in the annual MLK Observance Association parade interpreted President Barack Obama’s second inauguration as the dream fulfilled.
More than 100 organizations, churches or political entities showed their pride as the parade wound through downtown Hinesville. Its theme was “Reconnecting on our history while focusing on our future.”
Though the president appeared in a parade of his own in Washington, D.C., he was here in spirit — and through at least four impersonators.
A man in a suit and tie proffered Obama’s messages, such as protecting the middle class, through a megaphone while riding on the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority float. The pink float also was adorned with paintings that depicted King’s likeness with the word “Dream,” Obama’s portrait with “Progress,” and the Earth surrounded by hands of all colors locked in unity.
The float took first place in awards offered by the Beta Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
First African Baptist Church placed second, and Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church took third.
Standing by the Main Street bleachers erected in front of the Historic Liberty County Courthouse, Jordye Bacon Elementary School third-grader Jaliya Carter was wide-eyed as performers passed by.
“I think the parade is exciting,” Jaliya said, adding that she hopes to be in the parade next year. “My favorite part of the parade is when the motorcycles come out, and we get to see people acting like the president and Martin Luther King — and when people give out candy.”
She was there with her brother, fifth-grader Jashon Carter, cousins Jahaven Phillips, 11, and J’Nyla Phillips, 9.
“I like how all the people come out with the smiles on their face and they celebrate Martin Luther King,” Jashon said. “We learned that he was fighting for our black people’s freedom.”
“It was educational, and I learned a lot about Martin Luther King — I liked hearing the voice of MLK,” Jahaven said. “I think it’s pretty fun, and I like how funny the woman’s talking.”
He was referring to emcee Charolette Lovette Norman, whose commentary livened the parade by naming the officials and interacting with passing groups.
She drew laughs from the crowd as she engaged several car cruiser clubs with commentary about their wheels, and she even poked fun at an orange Mazda that stalled and was pulled from the line of cars.
But the parade marched on.
River of Life Outreach and Deliverance Ministries drew cheers for its float with participants dressed as Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama.
Pulled by a city fire truck, Riceboro’s float had a forward-facing teen depicting Obama underneath a banner that read “cultivating our future.” Likenesses of local African-American trailblazers surrounded. Facing backward was a rice-crop plantation scene, a photo of King and a banner that said, “remembering our past.”
Another float depicted reconnecting the past to the future with technology; it included a wooden schoolhouse and voting advancements.
The Carter and Phillips children said they were eager to see their friend, a member of the South Georgia Kings basketball team. Once the team got in front of the crowd, they busted out skills with double- and triple-dribblers.
They weren’t the only ones to draw applause and cheers, as bands, cheerleaders from two high schools and several step teams also rallied spectators.
Toward the end, Bethel AME Church stopped and Brother Larry Miles explained the significance of its parade walkers.
“What y’all see before y’all is plain and simple,” Miles said. “We’ve got our youth — that’s our future — and we’ve got men today who are grounded in Christ. We’ve got trailblazers … we’ve got men that are working with nothing but faith.”