On a breezy and cold Monday morning, Charlestonians gathered to watch one of the most celebrated parades of the year. Starting promptly at 10:30 am on Jan. 21, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade began marching down the streets, boasting acts of music, dancers, and local celebrities.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday in 1986. Americans have celebrated MLK day every third Monday of January since. The holiday honors the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a formidable leader in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s-60s and 1964 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. On Jan. 21, 2019, cities across the country host parades, celebrations and speeches to recognize the hallowed civil rights leader, and Charleston is no different.
This year’s parade began with a police escort and motorcycle tricks. Chief of Police Luther T. Reynolds, Congressman Joe Cunningham and Mayor John Tecklenburg all appeared along the parade route. More than 200 floats followed the local politicians. The parade began at Burke High School, traversed King Street, and concluded at Marion Square.
The Citadel Gospel Choir, Parris Island Marching Band and Hispanic Business Association dancers all made notable appearances on the parade route. Additionally, Greater Refuge Church congregants wielded Dr. King’s portrait and recited his speeches atop a large blue float. Marches by members of the Mother Emanuel AME Church and Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue made poignant yet powerful appearances when these two survivors of tragic gun violence walked together with messages of love and acceptance.
The Parade ended at approximately 12 p.m., and the sightseers dispersed, cold in their jackets but warm in their hearts.