North Charleston holds its first MLK parade
North Charleston residents on Saturday cheered and waved at a bevy of floats, old cars and motorcycles that passed before them in the city’s first Martin Luther King Jr. parade.
All smiles, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey greeted the community from behind the wheel of a 1932 Ford he said he borrowed for the event.
The procession’s 1.3-mile route began at Rivers and Durant avenues and ended at Park Circle.
Summey said he was happy to see the community embrace the new event in honor of King.
“I’m looking forward to watching it grow each year,” Summey said.
In the past, the community participated in a King celebration that spanned the tri-county area. Three years ago the community decided to have its own event.
Participants included Military Magnet Academy’s middle and high school students, multiple Scout groups, motorcycle enthusiasts and church groups.
Community members gathered at Park Circle for a unity service at the parade’s conclusion.
Attendees enjoyed games, jump castles, an old car show, food and other entertainment.
The crowd stood in a circle and held hands in a display of unity.
“Look how good God is, that we’re able to join hands in the spirit of Dr. King in our own city, the city of North Charleston,” the parade’s organizer Rev. Samuel Dennis said to the crowd. “Forty years later, and we’re still standing.”
Dennis recalled the city’s segregated past, and told the mostly African-American crowd to be thankful for those individuals who paved the way for change.
NAACP leader Nelson Rivers III was the event’s featured speaker. He spoke of King’s history, and urged the crowd to live the dream that King died pursuing.
“You can be anyone you want to be, go anywhere you want to go. It’s not enough to remember the dream just once a year, you can live the dream right now. And when you live the dream, look up one day and you might be where Barack Obama is,” Rivers said in his speech.
Former YWCA of Greater Charleston leader Christine O. Jackson, Coretta Scott King’s first cousin, attended the service. The crowd cheered praises for what Rivers dubbed Jackson’s “front row seat to history.”
Jackson marveled at the number of young people in attendance, and encouraged adults to pass King’s message on to the community’s youth. She paused while addressing the crowd to call a young girl to her side.
The first-grader had been pacing back and forth with an iPhone clutched in her small hands, enthusiastically filming each speaker as the service unfolded.
The child stopped shyly in her tracks at Jackson’s order and walked to the front of the crowd.
Jackson patted the girl on the shoulders and in honor of King’s legacy said “you are going to be somebody when you grow up.”