MLK Parade and festival draws hundreds

  • Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It was a beautiful day for the parade. It started at the Beck Administration Building, continuing along Church Street and Merriman Road to the Howard Adult Center.

Drum beats from three area high school bands, Andrews, Carvers Bay and Georgetown, set the pace for the Dr. Martin Luther King Parade last Saturday on the West End.
Mothers kept busy keeping track of their offspring as parade participants on the back of pick-up trucks, fire trucks and floats threw generous handsful of candy, which was immediately scooped up by eager youngsters waiting at the road edge.
It was a beautiful day for the parade which was organized by The Mitney Project with the assistance of Shanna Scott, and hundreds of enthusiastic spectators lined the parade route, which started at the Beck Administration Building, continuing along Church Street to Merriman Road and toward the Howard Adult Center for the first annual battle of the bands and music festival.
There was plenty of food available at tents set up on the lawn of the former Howard High School. Many visitors took the occasion to greet neighbors and former schoolmates.
One of the participants, Vietnam Veteran Rev. Lewis Morant, was still smiling as he stopped after the parade near his church, Mt. Zion Baptist. He rode on a float with the Low Country Veterans Group led by Rev. F. Earl Rutledge.
Alma White, Mitney board chair, said the response to the parade was positive as evidenced by the hundreds of participants and spectators. "Cultural enrichment is a cornerstone of our programming," she said.
"We are proud to help the community remember the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
It also was a Mitney fundraiser, helping to carry on dance, visual art, robotic classes, computer and individual finance-skill workshops for youth and adults at the Howard Adult Center, according to Leslie Di Mitri, director of development. 
“We are enthusiastic about how this event grows bigger every year,” Di Mitri said. “Funds we raise are re-invested right back into the community. Activities support entrepreneurship, workplace skills, healthy lifestyle, positive social development and stable neighborhoods."
Di Mitri said they are committed to fiscal responsibility with 70 percent of donations going into programs and towards the purchase of a building at the corner of Front Street and Merriman Road to house a community center.
"Our Change Agent $176,000 fundraising campaign to outfit the building’s interior was launched in December. We are working to meet our goals by the end of 2013,” she said.
Space will be available for more services, such as a medical office and the Big Shot Recording Studio to teach about professional audio recording and direct participants into music industry careers. Auditions for the Big Shot Talent Show begin Saturday, Feb. 9. Di Mitri said she urges potential talent show contestants to get an act together and tryout for a chance to compete in March for the grand prize of $500.
Talent of all kinds and contestants of all ages are welcome, Di Mitri said. Big Shot Talent Show is Saturday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at Howard Auditorium. Performances will include singing, dance and poetry. For more information, call 546-7900.
The remaining 30 percent of donations go into programs and administrative costs. The building cost is $200,000 for the purchase and approximately $709,000 to renovate and outfit for operations, according to Di Mitri.
Administrative staff includes Barbara Huell, acting executive director; Di Mitri, director of development; Shanna Scott, program and events coordinator, and Le’Akis Moore, program associate.
Program staff includes Lillian Cotton, computer instructor; Rachel Horath-Wildes, ballet and jazz instructor; Clifton Hunter, robotics coach/mentor; Sara Ingram, visual arts instructor; Lee Maxwell, Money Matters instructor, and Richard White, step class instructor. Board of Directors are White, chairperson, and Barbara J. Singleton, Gary Gates, Benjamin Goff and Gloria Bromell Tinubu.

By Lloyd Mackall
For The Times 

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