WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - People all over the country came together to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
Monday is a national federal holiday to remember the man who changed the lives of Americans forever. It’s a day of service and a time to strengthen communities as a sentiment to Dr. King.
“This is a day of importance," said parade-goer, Robert Davis. "It breaks up the racial guidelines, the barriers that have been put up for so many years. Dr. King made a step, a bold step, to demolish all inequality.”
The City of Wilmington hosted its annual MLK Parade in downtown Wilmington. Hundreds came out, despite the cold, to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
“If we come out to celebrate the Azalea Festival and the Christmas parade, we should come out here and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King as well," said Jaime Knox. "Not only because it represents everything that black people have struggled for, but everyone, every race. I believe everyone should come out and support that. He’s one of the greatest men in history and we need to celebrate that.”
Major General Joseph McNeil was the grand marshal of the parade. He was one of the organizers and members of the Greensboro Four. The four freshman college students refused to give up their seats at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter back in 1960. The famous sit-in was a pivotal moment for the Civil Rights movement. General McNeil is a Wilmington native. He graduated from Williston High School and now lives in New York. In September 2019, the Wilmington City Council voted to designate 3rd Street, from Market Street to Davis Street, in honor of General McNeil.
Dr. Martin Luther King Junior gave his famous speech “I Have a Dream...” during the March on Washington in August of 1963. The march was to advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans. Dr. King was assassinated nearly five years later in Memphis, Tennessee. The holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was established as a federal holiday by President Ronald Raegan in 1986.
Decades after his death, he is still celebrated and honored by so many for all the work he did to fight for freedom for every American.
“Even though his birthday is on the 15th, today is a day where everybody comes together and reflect on what can I do to make a change?" said Davis. "What can I do to make that difference? Do I want to be that person that’s in the background? Or do I want to be the person in the foreground, making that change, making that difference?”