Thousands turn out for Tulsa's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
1/22/13 at 7:36 AM
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Tulsa's Martin Luther King Jr. Parade wound through parts of downtown for more than two hours Monday, maintaining its status as one of the largest parades in the country honoring the slain civil-rights leader.
Nearly 200 businesses, churches, public and private schools, youth organizations, colleges and universities, nonprofit groups, corporations, assistance agencies and diversity organizations marched in this year'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."
Although thousands marched in the parade, crowd 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 been coming to the parade for nearly 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 President Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony.
Nicole Gardner said she was recording the inauguration so she could attend the parade, which 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."
Kathy Williams and Carmen Love oversee Bank of Oklahoma's parade committee, and both have marched in the parade, representing the company, for 17 years.
"We want to keep the dream alive, keep it in our minds and the forethought of others," Williams said. "We all have to coexist in this world."
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, including a 17-year-old female who was taken in fair condition to St. John Medical Center.
Original Print Headline: Freedom march
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
April Henderson (left) and Laurie Deane hold a portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Nyesha Gunn of Full Gospel Family Outreach Ministries watches the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Trevonte Buyckes, 9, drums with the T-Town Steppers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Kadizah Orr of Morton Healthcare dances 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 on Monday. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Marcus Jackson leans forward so that his daughter Priselis Jackson, 3, can reach a piece of candy being handed to her during the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World