The president of Bulloch County’s NAACP chapter hopes people of all races participate and enjoy what she called a “community celebration” planned to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
King, a Baptist minister and civil rights activist from Atlanta, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and after he was assassinated by James Earl Ray in 1968, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Medal of Freedom.
He is known for his efforts toward peace and unity. In observance of his birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was declared a federal holiday in 1986.
Statesboro’s MLK Day celebration actually begins Saturday with a prayer breakfast and continues with a parade and community service event afterward on Monday, said Bulloch County NAACP President Pearl Brown.
The prayer breakfast is being organized by the Bulloch County NAACP Youth Council, led by Renata Newbill-Jallows, she said.
The breakfast begins at 8 a.m. at St. Matthews Catholic Church on John Paul Avenue off Gentilly Drive, Newbill-Jallows said.
“We will ask God for strength and guidance,” she said, adding that the speakers this year are from the youth council. Statesboro High School students Kannetta King and Zion Weaver will speak, and students will also lead prayers, she said.
Guests of the breakfast are asked for a $10 donation, which will help fund trips to leadership conferences and other events for the Bulloch County NAACP Youth Council.
Tickets may be obtained at the door or ahead of time by calling Newbill-Jallows at (912) 259-0102.
The parade through downtown Statesboro starts at 2 p.m. Monday, with participants lining up at noon, Brown said. The grand marshal for this year is Dorothy Simmons, wife of the late Donnie Simmons, a former school board member and local political activist.
Dignitaries, beauty queens, floats with the theme “Steadfast and Immovable” and classic cars will vie for attention, along with local bands and dance troupes. The parade will start at the intersection of North Main and East Olliff streets, turning onto West Main Street and then MLK Drive, she said.
Afterward, the community gathering will be held at 3 p.m. at Elm Street Church of God. The keynote speaker is Dr. Torian White, principal of Southeast Bulloch Middle School. Local dignitaries, including Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar, will greet guests, she said. McCollar is Statesboro’s first black mayor.
Brown said the Bulloch County Chapter of the NAACP’s current focus is on “education, reading skills and prevention of bullying.”
The public is invited to attend all three events, she said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.