The annual NAACP Black History Parade and Festival drew its largest crowd ever, according to organizers.
Hundreds of people gathered to watch the literary-themed parade last Saturday, followed by a lively festival in Town Park, featuring food, live music, crafts, educational resources, and health screenings.
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman served as the parade’s grand marshal. Reverend Hoke Smith, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Madison, served as honorary grand marshal during the parade.
“It was an honor to serve as the grand marshal for this year’s parade,” said Perriman. “It means we can still celebrate our heritage and be proud of our heritage. We have come a long way. Our heritage is important to us and it’s great to see the community support that.”
“It was one of the best parades we have ever had,” said Smith. “Just the enthusiasm of the crowd and all the vendors—it was wonderful. I was excited to see the unity in our community, that everyone came together as one. Smith hopes the community will join together to overcome any racial, religious, economic, or political divisions.
“We want everyone to come together—black and white, and people of all colors. We want everyone to be in unity, because divided we are not strong.”
Hoke praised those involved in this year’s festival as well as the forerunners who organized this annual event in the past.
“Our honorable mayor, Fred Perriman, was our grand marshal this year and he has done a wonderful job serving our community and bringing unity. President Kendrick Simmons (president of the Morgan County Branch of the NAACP) is a great leader, too. I know Mrs. Laura Butler, and Curtis Butler, would be proud of the progress made.”
The Morgan County Branch of the NAACP encouraged parade participants to create floats and costumes depicting African-American characters in literature.
“Our theme this year is ‘African Americans in Children Literature,’ said a NAACP press release. “The NAACP wants Morgan County to get creative this year. We want to see floats, decorations, etc. in accordance with the theme to represent authors, African American children characters.”
This year marks the 49th years of the Morgan County Branch of the NAACP and the first year without the organization beloved leader, Laura Butler, who passed away last year.