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City celebrates Martin Luther King Day with parade

Several Pearl River County pastors were a part of the Martin Luther King Day Parade in Picayune. The pastors, near the front of the parade, held a prayer with a few other parade participants before the march began that ended at Rose of Sharon Church God in Christ where a celebration was held in honor of the slain civil rights leader.  Photo by Will Sullivan

Several Pearl River County pastors were a part of the Martin Luther King Day Parade in Picayune. The pastors, near the front of the parade, held a prayer with a few other parade participants before the march began that ended at Rose of Sharon Church God in Christ where a celebration was held in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
Photo by Will Sullivan

The largest Martin Luther King Day parade in Picayune’s history began early Monday on Goodyear Boulevard next to the Picayune City Hall.

This year’s parade had 27 elements, including the Picayune Memorial High School Band and Pride of the Tide and the PMHS NJROTC color guard, a far cry from the children’s wagons and tricycles it began with just a few years ago. The parade wound from Goodyear, down Main Street to its intersection with Rosa Street, up Rosa to Beech Street and down Beech to the Rose of Sharon Church of God in Christ.

The final speaker before theclosing remarks and blessing of the lunch that followed the ceremonies held at Rose of Sharon, NJROTC instructor and Navy Chief Petty Officer Mark Thorman, and king for the parade, reminded the crowd of just how long the march for freedom in this country has been.

He started by reading the opening of the Declaration of Independence and pointed out that the American Revolution was fought by members of many races, creeds and religions.

“And by women,” Thorman said. “There were women who dressed up like men so that they could fight. Not just in the revolution, either. There were women who dressed like men and fought in the (Civil War),” he said.

Thorman also pointed at the children who made up the 2014 Gospel Community Workshop Choir and told the crowd that filled the church, “These kids are our greatest asset and our future.”

He, and Picayune School Superintendent Dean Shaw, told the crowd that adults need to understand that they are being watched by children and that adults needed to set good examples for the children.

Shaw told the crowd about watching two football players in his childhood and how he revered them and wanted to be like them. Before becoming school superintendent, Shaw coached Picayune Memorial High School’s basketball team for several years.

Shaw reminded the crowd of how King promoted love over violence. “Love can go a long way and love doesn’t cost anything, he said, referring to a quote of King’s recited by master of ceremonies and vocal choir soloist Alesha Carter: “I have decided to stick with love because hate is too great a burden to carry.”

The choir and various soloists kept the crowd clapping and joining in the celebration with several gospel songs, including one listed as King’s favorite, Precious Lord, sung by Jonathan Hopkins, husband of choir director, Shalonda Hopkins.

The celebration ended with a meal provided by the church in an adjacent hall following a blessing by Elder David Simmons.

Other speakers included Canon Jon Filkins from St. Barnabus Anglican Church, who gave the welcoming prayer and the Rev. Donald Hart, who gave the welcoming address.