Shortly after 9 a.m. on a chilly January morning, Port St. Joe residents began to gather under the City Hall Park gazebo holding banners and signs displaying the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s words and teachings.
The weather would warm considerably by the time the gathered parade participants began to make their way down Reid Avenue an hour later.
As the group rounded the corner to walk the entire length of Martin Luther King Boulevard, they used the time to reflect and speak candidly as a community about the city’s history.
“This year’s theme is ‘It Starts with Me, transforming into a beloved community by putting the dream into action,’” said Cora McNair Curtis, one of the parade’s organizers.
“Our mission is to empower our people, and our community to create a peaceful, humane, equitable and just society in which we live. By putting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream into action, we go beyond words. This will enable us to live, play, work, and worship together, all on one accord.”
In the hours that followed, many of the marchers, along with members of the community, gathered in the Washington High School Gymnasium for a program celebrating Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy.
“It’s very important to share this day with our future generations so they can know their history, but not only that, so they learn how to treat people and love people and become a vital part of this community and that’s what it’s all about, keeping hope alive and sharing the American dream that everybody is somebody,” said Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Kenneth Frame.
“Martin Luther King to me is everything. He’s my mentor. He inspired me to become a pastor. He inspired me to become a civil rights pastor and a chaplain. I’m a police chaplain for different agencies. And I thank God every day that his legacy has touched my life in such a way,” Frame continued, according to our media partners at WMBB.
Several community organizations helped to put on the event Monday morning by donating their time or resources, including Freedom Exchange Community Development Centers of the Americas Foundation, Inc., the Port St. Joe High School JROTC, the Port St. Joe Police Department and the Gulf County regional libraries.
Organizers explained that the Annual Walking Together parade, which they hope will grow into an even larger event in years to come, celebrates the community’s togetherness and provides a space to talk about how to further this togetherness.