Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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Longview parade honors legacy of MLK

Megan Hix

By Megan Hix
Jan. 13, 2018 at 11:19 p.m.

Antwanette Oliver of Gladewater reads her first-place essay during Saturday's Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration at the Broughton Recreation Center.

Longview community members gathered Saturday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and pass on his legacy to a new generation.

The MLK Day Parade traveled down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the Broughton Recreational Center for a community celebration.

Drucilla Johnson, 70, recently moved to Longview but has attended the parade with her family five or six times over the years, she said.

"It's the least I can do to honor the memory of Dr. King," she said. "To celebrate his legacy on the weekend of his birthday is especially important so we don't forget where we came from."

Johnson attended the event with her son and granddaughter. She said the whole family could use the opportunity to reflect on and talk about King's work.

"We can't lose sight of those values he instilled," she said.

Her granddaughter, Zoi, is in the third grade but already has learned about King's lasting impact.

"I've learned a lot about his family and his 'I Have a Dream' speech," Zoi said. "If he didn't do what he did, we wouldn't be here right now."

Sharing the accomplishments of the civil rights movement is a big part of why the MLK Planning Committee holds the parade each year, said District 3 Councilwoman Kasha Williams.

"Dr. King's legacy is one we can all learn from... regardless of race, class or gender," she said. "I hope people embody his legacy and make it a part of their day-to-day lives."

About 100 onlookers gathered at the Broughton Recreation Center to watch a parade of police cars, a fire engine, Longview ISD's junior ROTC and local officials, who often stopped to hand out treats or stickers to children in the crowd.

Brandis Jamerson, 36, a science teacher in Longview ISD, said she doesn't get to teach about King in her classroom, but she tries to embody what he stands for through her women's organization, Sassi Longview, and through volunteering at events around town.

"When people work together, they can accomplish a lot of good," she said. "We all have a role to play."

Jamerson brought her son to the parade and said she tries to instill in him King's legacy of "teamwork despite different backgrounds."

"The biggest thing is what it means to support one another," she said. "(We should) teach the younger generation to be aware of the culture and story behind the MLK holiday."

Dana Hawkins, 52, who works at Eastman Chemical Co. in Longview, said his three foster children wanted to come to the parade. While the 4-year-olds are too young to understand the history the parade celebrates, he said he comes every year and believes it is important for everyone to participate in some way.

"Every year, we hope it gets bigger," Hawkins said. "As (the children) get older, maybe one day you'll even see them out here with their own kids."

Inside the Broughton center, groups from Partners in Prevention, the Longview Public Library, the Proud Positive Women Association and more set up informational booths as the parade crowd gathered for the community festival.

The program included songs from the Foster Middle School Chorale, readings from the MLK essay contest winners and other performances.



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