Thousands march in Tulsa's MLK parade
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Monday, January 21, 2013
1/21/13 at 3:34 PM
Tulsa’s Martin Luther King Jr., Parade wound through parts of downtown Tulsa Monday for more than two hours, maintaining its status as one of the largest parades in the country honoring the Civil Rights leader.
Close to 200 businesses, churches, public and private schools, youth organizations, colleges and universities, nonprofit groups, corporations, assistance agencies and diversity organizations all marched in Monday’s parade.
“To me, it’s a testimony that our country is moving in the right direction,” said Pleas Thompson, president of the Martin Luther King Jr., Commemoration Society in Tulsa. “People seem to be happy, to be joyous. We are one united country, not a black country or a white country. On MLK Day, that’s what we see.”
While thousands marched in the parade as participants, attendance at this year’s parade was down, Thompson said.
“I think it was the inauguration. Competing with President Obama, I think it hurt attendance,” he said. “Usually the cold weather doesn’t affect it too much.”
Vicki and Emmett Scott have come and watched the parade for almost 20 years.
“We had kids in it for years,” Vicki Scott said, but even with no children participating, they still made it to the parade.
“We waited until the last minute,” Emmett Scott said, because they were watching Obama’s swearing in ceremony.
Nicole Gardner said she was recording the inauguration so she could come to the parade, like she does every year.
“I like to see the different expressions by the different groups in how they perceive Martin Luther King,” said Gardner, who added that’s she’s seen more diversity in the parade participants over the years. “It speaks volumes for the Tulsa Community.
We can pull together for one occasion to celebrate an awesome and courageous person.”
Officers from the Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were stationed along the parade route on motorcycles, bicycles and horseback. Tulsa Police reported no incidents at this year’s parade.
EMSA transported two people from the parade to area hospitals, one a 17-year-old female who was taken in fair condition to St. John Medical Center.
Dion Daniels,10, shouts a chant with Hawthorne Elementary School who was marching along with WPX Energy at The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Vincent McGee holds a sign as he marches with local sanitation workers during the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Monday in Tulsa. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
April Henderson (left) and Laurie Deane hold a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Monday in Tulsa. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Alexia Hall, age 13 (right) and her friends try to inflate a balloon before the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Monday in Tulsa. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Booker T. Washington High School drum major Jarvis Payne Jr. marches in the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Jonathan Orange and the Tulsa Fire Academy march in The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Kadizah Orr with Morton Healthcare dances at The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Nakia Stevens with the T-Town Steppers dances before the start of The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Kyah Daniels, 13, performs with KIPP Monday in Tulsa's Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World