Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, celebration set in Ardmore

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite

The HFV Wilson Center will be hosting a parade and celebration ceremony on Monday, Jan. 17 to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. The parade will kick off at 10 a.m. from Cardinal Park before traveling down Martin Luther King Boulevard and F Street NE before finishing at the community center. The celebration will begin at approximately approximately 11:45 a.m. inside the center.

HFV Wilson Executive Director JaMia Cody said the parade entry fee for any groups wanting to be a part of the parade will be $10 which can be paid in advance by cash, check or credit card at the community center. The fee can also be paid the day of the event when entries begin lining up at Cardinal Park at 9:00 a.m. However only cash and checks will be accepted that morning.

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John Credle Jr.

Cody said the parade typically lasts until around 11:15 a.m., and it typically takes around half an hour to get everyone inside the community center and ready for the celebration ceremony. To help mitigate the spread of COVID 19, they are asking everyone who attends the ceremony to wear a mask, and all seating will be spaced six feet apart. 

This year's ceremony will include various solo and group musical performances as well as a performance from the Jefferson Elementary Drill Team. City Commissioner John Credle, who also serves as pastor for Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and school counselor at Lincoln Elementary will be the special guest speaker.

"I'm very excited to see Pastor Credle speak," Cody said. "I had been thinking for the longest time about who we should ask, and when I suggested him to the board, they all thought it was a great idea. He serves our community in so many ways, and we're honored to have him with with us."

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This year's theme will be "It Starts with Me," and Credle gave a few insights about his upcoming speech which will center on reviving Dr. King's dream.

"I believe that some people have got so discouraged that they believe the dream has died," Credle said. "Some have gotten so fed up with so many disappointments over the years that they have abandoned the dream of us all united together and have grabbed hold of other ideologies and believe that it just can't happen."

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But Credle said it doesn't have to be that way.

"I believe that we need to look at ourselves first and know that reviving the dream starts within us," he said. "I believe that if we take that look in the mirror and realize that it takes each one of us do the work that Dr. King's dream can be revived."

Credle stressed that this celebration as well as the holiday and the overall legacy of Dr. King is for everyone.

"Dr. King's work was not just for African Americans; it was for all people," he said. "His work was not solely for the liberation of Black people, it was also about calling on people to be united together. I believe this message is important especially in this time, not just in Ardmore but also nationwide because it seems like we have a divide."

He said the attendance at the annual celebration at the HFV Wilson Community Center is as diverse as the makeup of the city as a whole.

"It's not just African Americans, but also Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Caucasians and Asian Americans," he said. "Everyone comes to the HFV Center and it's a beautiful sight. I think back to the year when I was asked to say the prayer, and I looked out and saw all different colors and cultures. That a beautiful thing and what it's really all about."