Williston parade honors work of MLK

Wylinda Johnson, at left, waves to parade viewers while leading Allen Chapel AME Church with Yvonne Colson, at right, in the parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Williston on Saturday.

AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 9:21 p.m.
Despite cool temperatures and a steady wind, more than 150 people showed up on Saturday morning to honor the work of Martin Luther King Jr. with a parade and outdoor program.
"This is the 20th year that we have honored Dr. King's work in one form or another," said event coordinator Rev. Johnny Jones of the Fountain of Life church. His grandmother, the late Blondell Jones, was a member of the Allen Chapel AME Church choir, one of six choirs credited with founding the city's Martin Luther King commemorative events.
"We have had some kind of event - a march or a walk or a program with speakers for the past 20 years - and I am honored to be able to continue this," Jones said.
This year Jones and other church and civic leaders put together a parade that went from Williston Middle School to the large pavilion in Linear Park. In addition to the fire trucks, color guard and local officials, many churches had members who were riding or walking the nearly two-mile long parade route. At the end of the parade, participants gathered to sing "Victory Is Mine," as well as to listen to others sing, pray and speak.
The purpose of honoring King meant different things to each participant, their sentiments sometimes reflecting their generation.
Second grader Tahera Lee, who has learned about King's life in school and at home, said the purpose of the holiday weekend was "To do good things."
Tahera's mother, Vera Hemphill, said her message to Tahera has been that King was a civil rights leader who died striving for equality among all people, something that Tahera should strive for.
Hemphill's mom, Ethel Anderson, was a member of the Williston Vocational School class of 1968, the last class to graduate from the city's black high school before integration created a single high school.
"At the time, all we knew was that we were black and other people were white. They rode in the front of the bus and we rode in the back or we stood up," Anderson said. "Things have changed. And, they will change more."
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com

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