Charleston remembers MLK at annual downtown parade

The Holy City paused Monday to join cities across the nation to remember the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:05 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 4:57 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Holy City paused Monday to join cities across the nation to remember the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a day after he would have turned 94 years old.

The event, organized by the YWCA of Greater Charleston, began near Burke High School at 10:30 a.m. wrapped up around 12:30 p.m. near Mother Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Do the Work.”

“We need to continue to not only have the conversations but embrace this year’s theme of doing the work,” YWCA of Greater Charleston Board Chair Kendra Snipe said. “Get out here. Talk to your neighbors. Get to know people you typically don’t talk to. We have to make sure we’re embracing each other, so that we can actively embrace that change.”

Mayor John Tecklenburg said this was the 51st year the city and the YWCA of Greater Charleston have partnered to host the event, which featured 144 different groups in participation.

“We have the largest celebration in the state of South Carolina. We’re very proud of that,” Tecklenburg said.

Some people could be seen waving from floats, while others drove old and new vehicles and marching bands from Burke High School and Manning High Schools also took part, playing music and dancing throughout the parade’s route.

Thousands could be seen waving back at the participants in the first parade held in-person in two years.

“We’re all one human race, and he said that only love could conquer hate,” Tecklenburg said about Dr. King. “Only light can dispel the darkness. Such fundamental truths that I think our community, country, our world, our human race yearned for.”

Snipe said events like the parade show how much Charleston has changed and evolved in its diversity and inclusiveness since the Civil Rights Movement. She also said the parade is a reminder of where the city has come from and the work that’s leftover.

“We figured that we have done a lot of talking, done a lot of Zoom calls,” she said. “We’ve done lots of things where the conversation has been real, but we want to make sure we’re putting those things into action.”

As part of this year’s theme, organizers are asking people to have conversations with people they normally wouldn’t and to use the holiday as a day of service.

“But not only is it a national holiday, I think it’s important that we use this day to serve the community,” Snipe said. “There’s been a lot of sacrifices historically made, especially Dr. King and his family, and today, we want to make sure and pouring that back into the community because it’s that important.”

Tecklenburg added Dr. King’s preaching had an effect not only in Charleston but around the world and said people can continue honoring his legacy.

“It can be those everyday things that we do as citizens, as human beings to help one another, to help a neighbor, to show some love where it’s needed, to pay it forward,” he said.

“In order for us to move forward and what we are looking for as far as our future is concerned, where we are presently, we need to understand where we came from, and this is a good indication of that,” Snipe said about the parade.

Parade organizers said they do not foresee stopping the event anytime soon and are looking forward to next year’s event.