Jefferson Street in Waxahachie was abuzz with residents, local organizations, school students, city officials and law enforcement as they came together for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, Monday.
A diverse group of about 100 paraders, and dozens of spectators, took to the course in a show of solidarity.
“You can’t help but look at the diversity and to look at our participation,” said Betty Square Coleman, president of NAACP local chapter 6240. “The turnout is good. That just tells me where we are in society. That just tells me that people are concerned, and it’s a good thing. Dr. King stood for African American freedom and equality, and we should continue to uphold that.”
Waxahachie Mayor David Hill, whose term expires in May, admitted that while a lot of progress has been made since 1963 when King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, there’s still “a long way to go.”
“Even though we were in the segregated South, most of us were completely unaware of what was going on,” Hill recalled. "I told Chuck Beatty [Councilmember] that one day. He said, ‘How could you be unaware?’ I said, ‘We just were,’ and we thought this was the norm. This was the way people lived. It’s quite an epiphany when you come to the understanding that it is not okay, and that is why we are here today.”
“I watched Dr. King’s speech again this morning and every time I watch it, my nose gets wet, my eyes tear up,” Hill added. “Hopefully we can all come together like that. We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go.
The United Way of West Ellis County was also represented in the parade.
“It was a fun day in Waxahachie to see so many people coming together to honor Dr. King’s legacy,” United Way Executive Director Kacey Chesier said.
Linda Walker proudly watched her granddaughter who helped to lead the parade with the national flag as a Red Oak High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Color Guard.
“I also appreciate the fact that it’s Martin Luther King Day,” Walker responded. “I think everybody should get out and celebrate that. It’s very important to everybody, not just the black community, but everybody, all of us… I think it’s a wonderful thing that we keep it up.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday celebrating the life and achievements of King Jr. on the third Monday of January each year. The holiday was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
The first MLK Jr. Day parade in Waxahachie also took place in 2000.