Martin Luther King Jr. march set for Monday

Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Picayune’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. march will take it’s historic route on Monday.

The march will honor the memory of the legendary civil rights leader the day before Barack Obama takes office as the nation’s first black president. Line up will begin at 10:45 a.m. at South Side Elementary and the march is set to start at 11:15 a.m. If inclement weather interferes, a program on King will start at 11:45 at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.

A separate celebration of Obama’s inauguration is planned for 5-9 p.m. Tuesday at the Carver Museum in the Centraplex off Memorial Boulevard.

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While this year the march will line up at a historic place, the old Carver High School now known as South Side Elementary, it will take a longer route to compensate for the growing community participation. Each year the march begins on Rosa Street because years ago that is where many black businesses began, said MLK committee member Ursula Whitehead.

“It’s a reminder of where we were, now look where we’ve come to,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead said this year some additions include Picayune Memorial High School’s Marching band and NJROTC. Also, eight churches are including their Praise Dancers, which consists of 43 members between the ages of eight and 18 from the churches. The ultimate goal is to include people from all over the county, Whitehead said.

The new route will begin at the same location, but instead of turning off Rosa Street onto Jones Street towards Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, the march will head all the way down Rosa to South Main Street. There the march will head south on Main towards Bruce Street where it will take another right turn. A final right turn will be made at the intersection of Jones Street and Bruce Street where the march will head towards the rear entrance of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, MLK committee chairperson Etta Scott said. Dinner will be served at the church after the program.

Three months of planning has resulted in the day long event, Scott said.

“A lot of people think this is a one-day event. It takes three months of planning to do this day,” Scott said.

This will be the third year the MLK committee spearheaded the march, Scott said. Each year the effort grows, along with community donations and support.

A special ceremony will take place during the Martin Luther King memorial at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church where key members of the community ages 75 and older who have witnessed many changes in society will be recognized, Scott said.

A side note of the march will be to recognize the incoming president, Obama, the day before he takes office, Scott said.

Scott said the whole county is invited, no matter what a person’s background may be.

“It’s not just about us as a black people, it’s about everybody and people really need to know that,” Scott said.

Scott and Whitehead said they appreciate all the donations and support the MLK Committee received from the local businesses, county and city officials and local churches.