Uyvonne Cooper, of Oklahoma City, stood
A half a block away,
The grandmother and the mother attended the parade for the same reasons.
Each wanted to show respect for the civil rights leader. But Cooper and Hamilton also wanted the younger generations to be aware of a Martin Luther King Jr. whose influence carries well beyond a few pages in a textbook. They want them to understand what he accomplished, but also that his dream isn't complete.
“This generation doesn't understand how he fought, how we couldn't eat in certain places, how we couldn't go different places because of our race,” Cooper said.
“I think we've come a long ways,” Hamilton said, “but it still needs changing.”
On Monday, Joyce Henderson was near the start of the parade that worked its way from Broadway and NW 7 to Bricktown. She remembers being a teen at another gathering, one she doesn't ever want to forget.
A meaningful day
Henderson, of Oklahoma City, was a 16-year-old situated somewhere in the masses of the March on Washington. The soon-to-be senior at Dunjee High School heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. present his “I Have a Dream” speech that day — Aug. 28, 1963.
That, in part, is why Monday's parade, attended by thousands, was so meaningful to Henderson.
“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.”
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.”