Augusta celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with a parade and a message Saturday.
“Stop the violence” was on T-shirts, signs and posters along the parade route. The Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, the Dorsey Racing Team and Girl Scouts, among others, all carried the message with their floats.
“It is a parade of remembrance and appreciation,” said 18-year-old Jamal Watkins, of Hephzibah. “Stop the violence was part of Dr. King’s message. We can’t forget that.”
Watkins cheered as his friends from Hephzibah High School marching band started the parade.
Members of the Augusta NAACP served as grand marshals with chapter president Dr. Charles Smith and members Henry Ingram and Bill Lockett handing out candy from their cars.
The Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club showed up in droves, with members from Augusta, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Florida – even one from Hawaii. People were dancing on the side of the road to the music from a few bikes. Another bike had a stuffed buffalo strapped to the back.
High school marching bands from Westside, T.W.Josey, Butler, Academy of Richmond County and Laney played.
Jean Ball, whose niece attends Laney, said she was proud to be helping with the parade.
“This parade is meaningful for our family,” she said. “If you are going to march in a parade, this is one we can really get behind. Augustans should be proud.”
The Augusta Corvette Club brought out some of their cars, followed by a few Lamborghinis with the doors open on both sides.
“This whole weekend is about a man who spent his life working for us,” said Augusta resident Kayne Johnson. “We need to do our part to remember him and what he did and continue that in our lives. The dream lives.”