Monday marks the national day of observance for civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and Statesboro residents will celebrate the hero in traditional fashion.
The Bulloch County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will again host an annual parade downtown and sponsor two days of activities beginning this weekend.
The celebration will kick off with the MLK Prayer Breakfast Saturday at 7:30 a.m. in the sanctuary of St. Matthews Catholic Church. Alvie Coes will serve as keynote speaker for the breakfast.
The service is a lead-up to the main event — Monday’s parade along North Main Street.
The 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. parade is set to begin at 2 p.m. This year's theme is meant to honor the military and their contributions, as well as those of the late Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the Rev. Patrick Jones, said Pearl Brown, President of the Bulloch branch of the NAACP.
“Our theme is Affirming America’s Promise,” she said. “The constitution starts out telling us that we are all created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. Along with that promise comes the ability to have a job and be productive citizens in this country.”
“That is a promise that we have in America,” Brown said. “We are affirming that promise for our young people to let them know that they have to get educated and be ready to step forward when today’s leaders are no longer here.”
As in years past, the parade will start on North Main Street, near the now-closed Kentucky Fried Chicken, and proceed south before turning right onto West Main Street. From there, the procession will turn north along Martin Luther King Blvd. and finish at Luetta Moore Park.
Brown said she is hoping for a great crowd.
“Every year we have had a really good turnout and we expect another great turnout this year as well,” she said. “So far, we know we will have 80-plus entries in the parade. And we still have applications being turned in.”
The deadline for entry forms passed Tuesday.
Immediately following the parade, a yearly Community Service Program will be held at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Bulloch Street. Reverend Francys Johnson will serve as keynote speaker for the 3 p.m. program and Rev. Julius Abraham, the parade’s grand marshal, will be honored for his contributions to the local community, Brown said.
The event is free and open to the public.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454