MLK-Black History Month Parade a time to celebrate
The first day of Black History Month will be ushered in with marching feet, banging drums, dancing, waving and even cowboys as the 12th Annual Durham MLK-Black History Month Parade marches up Fayetteville Street at noon Saturday.
Phyllis Coley of Another Coley Event organizes the annual parade, a program of the Triangle Cultural Awareness Foundation. It has progressed from a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration into a Black History Month event as well. This year’s event is a larger parade with more variety, Coley said.
“We really worked hard to get as many bands as we can,” she said. Included in the parade will be the Hillside High School and Southern High School marching bands as well as seven other bands including the N.C. Central University Marching Sound Machine and St. Augustine’s University band from Raleigh.
NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White, St. Augustine University President Dianne Boardley Suber and Bennett College Rosalind Fuse-Hall will all serve as grand marshals of the parade, which Coley called a “triple crown.” The theme of this year’s parade is “Celebrating Black Women in American Culture.” Coley said the three higher education leaders will ride on a float at the beginning of the parade.
The parade begins at W.G. Pearson Elementary School at 3501 Fayetteville St. and concludes at Lawson Street on the NCCU campus. Others in the parade include Mat Power, a 9-year-old mini quad racer from Virginia; Miss Black USA Amanda McCoy, who was previously Miss Black North Carolina; drag racer Eugene Coard; and the Carolina Phoenix women’s football team, which won the 2013 Independent Women’s Football League championship. Groups in the parade include elementary schools, charter schools, El Centro Hispano, sororities and lots of vehicles, including a Rolls Royce.
The Bull City Cowboys, who are African-American cowboys, will participate in the parade again this year. Cowboy Carl Jones said that 15 to 20 cowboys will be there on horseback. He said they have been part of the annual parade for the past decade “because it represents a great heritage of Martin Luther King, and us being black cowboys, we like to get out and let people know that black people are involved in a wide range of things.”
“A lot of inner city kids don’t know about black cowboys or the history,” Jones said. Everyone loves horses, he said, and those who come to the parade will get to see them up close.
Coley said that good weather is expected and that everything in the parade is a teachable moment.
“We are celebrating and honoring the achievements of African-Americans,” she said.
Durham County Commissioners Chair Michael Page said the parade is exciting and a time for reflection and celebration of African-American accomplishments. He was invited to participate, but because of having surgery last week, will wait and see if he is able to join in.
The three women that are grand marshals show that it’s a new day with new opportunities to embrace their leadership, Page said. The area has landed some extraordinary leadership, he said. “It’s a great day.”
The marching bands are key to any parade, he said, and particularly Hillside High as it is located on the Fayetteville Street corridor.
“Watching the talents of our young people is so encouraging,” Page said.