My Turn, Mae Carroll: Return MLK Parade to Monday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2015

By Mae Carroll

Special to the Salisbury Post

As an Afro-American veteran who fought for global freedom of the United States of America, I and some of my fellow veterans are appalled at the turnout for the Martin Luther King Jr.  Parade on Saturday, Jan. 17.

For the last 20 or more years, the MLK Parade was held on Monday, the day commemorating Dr. King’s birthday, and multitudes were in attendance. The parade was effective. The question is, why change something when it is not broken?

At the V.A. Medical Center, I was in charge of the MLK Parade for years. We displayed a MLK float depicting our memories of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did for the human race. At J.C. Price American Legion Post 107, we marched proudly in the parade.

At that time, the streets were filled with multitudes of onlookers. The MLK Parade was coordinated by a group of concerned citizens who proudly coordinated the parade with much success.

For the last three years, the parade has been coordinated by the Human Relations Council, which I served on for 12 years and two as president. The parade at that time was not coordinated by the council. Ever since the parade has been handled by the Human Relations Council, the quality, participation and motivation have dwindled.

At the conclusion of the parade, there was mass confusion. Nobody knew where to conclude the program. Livingstone College was closed, and police were trying to handle the confusion. I now know the conclusion was at Hall’s Gym, but there were no signs to indicate this and the police did not seem to know where to direct the parade participant traffic.

It is my understanding that a member of City Council had evidence that moving the parade from Monday to Saturday would be more productive. Well, that research has not proven to be effective. I feel we should go back to the drawing board to be effective.

I hope that the new president of the Human Relations Council, the Reverend Bratton, will develop a task force to study this problem and take a comprehensive look at the surveys and other feedback regarding the parade.

I have a dream that one day we will once again celebrate the MLK Parade on Dr. Martin Luther King’s  birthday, as we have done in the past.

I quote Dr. King:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This is the quote that guided the pioneers of the MLK Parade 20 years ago. We are still around and willing to offer consultation, if needed.

Mae Carroll is commander of the J.C. Price American Legion Post 107.