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Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade attracts large crowd in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade worked its way from Broadway and NW 7 to Bricktown on Monday.
by Bryan Painter Published: January 17, 2012

/articleid/3640949/1/pictures/1612575">Photo - Khepra Khem from the Evangelistic Church leads the crowd in singing a Negro spiritual that was frequently sung by marchers in the 1960s civil rights movement.  Khem and others were gathered in front of the Freedom Center at one of several events in the Oklahoma City area that allowed local residents to observe the national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 16,  2012,  At left is Orlando Fowlkes.   Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Khepra Khem from the Evangelistic Church leads the crowd in singing a Negro spiritual that was frequently sung by marchers in the 1960s civil rights movement. Khem and others were gathered in front of the Freedom Center at one of several events in the Oklahoma City area that allowed local residents to observe the national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, At left is Orlando Fowlkes. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

“It's important, because to me, we're still not where we ought to be,” she said. “And it's important because we still have some of the same issues that we had when he was alive. We've made progress, but we're not there yet. And so to me, every year we can focus on what it is we need to do to continue to make his dream a reality.”

Henderson retired in 2006 after 36 years as an educator and administrator. And so, like Cooper and Hamilton, she doesn't want what has been gained to be lost.

“We've still got to teach our young people about their history,” she said. “I'm going to say many are assuming that they have always had opportunities.

“We need to continue to remind them that the struggle is continuing and remind them of how far it has come.”

Offering tributes

Although partly cloudy and windy, Monday brought temperatures close to 20 degrees above the norm for Jan. 16 in Oklahoma City. Amid those conditions there was laughing, singing, clapping and dancing in the streets from 2 p.m. until after 4:30 p.m.

There were those on floats as well as those walking with organizations and other groups tossing candy to children.

There were red and green streamers tied to car handles and antennas.

There were balloons — green and yellow, pink and purple and red, white and blue to name a few.

There were motorcycles and bicycles. There were horses and cars with a lot of horse power.

There were so many ways so many people offered their tributes to Martin Luther King Jr.

And that goes back to why Hamilton made sure her children were along Monday's parade route.

“He fought for our rights as far as us being able to be in the same area, to just be in the same room,” she said of King. “He's done a lot for our race, and I just want my kids to know that.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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