The Georgetown community came together Saturday to honor the life of civil rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to celebrate unity, and to be part of the 37th annual Black History Parade.
The event was organized by Georgetown’s Howard Alumni Association and featured several youth groups, community organizations, local businesses, churches as well as the marching bands from Georgetown and Carvers Bay High School.
The parade started at the Beck Center before making its way down Merriman Road and eventually to the Howard Center. The principals from the county’s four high schools served as the parade’s grand marshals. Afterward, a festival took place along Kaminski Street.
Parade organizer Jessie Walker said this year’s theme put an emphasis on the important role education plays in keeping King’s dream alive.
“This year we’re incorporating our MLK program with Black History Month,” Walker said.
Representing Carvers Bay High School on Saturday was Principal Dr. Bethany Giles; from Waccamaw High was Principal Adam George; from Andrews High School was Principal Dr. Paula Anderson and representing Georgetown High School was Principal Craig Evans, who drove the marshals along the parade route.
Former Andrews High principal Dr. Michelle Greene – the first black woman to lead the school – was also a grand marshal. She spoke about her time as an educator, affirming the need “to get back to the basics.”
“We need to make sure that our children are listening because sometimes we don’t teach them the things that our forefathers have taught us," she said.
She credited her mentor and brother, Socrates Greene, who inspired her to attend Allen University, a commitment that enabled her to work with “so many great young people.”
Speaking from outside the Howard Center, she said, “Education is the key to the door that unlocks their future aspirations.”
Walker encouraged the crowd to “continue to make more history.”
Local author Steve Williams recited excerpts from King's famous letter he wrote in April 1963 while in jail in Birmingham, Alabama. The letter defended the use of nonviolent protest to confront systemic racism.
Presentations continued with a reading of Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” and Janet Graham’s reading of “Guest List." A chorus sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the Howard School’s alma mater.
Parade awards went to the Georgetown High School Marching Band, Carvers Bay Marching Band, Premier Community Drumline and the Low Country Veterans Group.
During the festival, Georgetown High's band performed the “Star-Spangled Banner."
“When you hear your family and friends call your name,” said drum major Jaylynn Rutledge, “that’s the best part.”
Georgetown High senior Tahlib Fulton watched the parade and enjoyed the festival with his fifth-grade sister, Myla.
“I’ve been to three or four parades,” he said. “I liked the Georgetown Band; I liked the food.”
Georgetown resident Carol McCants, a 1983 Howard High graduate, said her favorite part was the Premier Drumline and the people who gave their support. “I am so impressed with the crowd who came out this afternoon,” she said.
“I love the fact that we have little children here,” Walker said. “We are all one big happy city, one big happy family. All together, we are more."