The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade is set for 1 p.m. Saturday with the theme “Can We Dream Together.”
The Parade will start at Granger Park and travel through downtown. Parade chairperson Yvonne Pittman said the theme is to encourage oneness in the community. Out of growing frustration of people being against each other, Pittman said she wants to see everyone in the community being in one accord.
“That’s the way (Dr. King) wanted it,” she said. “He wanted everyone to enjoy each other.”
This year’s grand marshal will be LaGrange native Dr. Nina Scott-Gilbert. Gilbert is the founder and executive director emeritus of the Ivy Preparatory Academy charter schools in Norcross.
For Gilbert, the “Can We Dream Together” theme has special meaning.
“Dreaming is important, but what’s more important is working together to accomplish a common dream that will improve our community,” she said.
Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday resonates with Gilbert as it is her birthday as well. Gilbert said she has always connected with King as a dreamer and visionary.
Being asked to be the grand marshal has been a surreal experience, Gilbert said, because she remembers standing on the sidelines watching the parade go by as a little girl. She said having the opportunity to come back to her hometown as the grand marshal has allowed reflection on her life and how it has come full circle.
Gilbert opened Georgia’s first single-gender charter school for girls in 2008 and has since opened three single-gender charter schools. Education has been a primary factor in her life, as both of her parents were Troup County educators.
She also serves as senior partner of the educational consulting firm Schools That Work LLC, and is currently the consultant and adjunct professor at Morehouse College, where she is the senior adviser on education reform for the Morehouse Research Institute.
Gilbert received an Outstanding Citizen award from the NAACP and Georgia’s Secretary of State for her community service and contributions to public education. She has been featured in Rolling Out magazine, Maybelline Cosmetics, CNN, Fox’s Mike Huckabee Show, Essence Magazine, the Atlanta Business League as one of Atlanta’s 100 Women of Influence and was recognized as a Class Act Educator by Root.com
Pittman said the parade has been celebrated for more than 20 years and each year the crowd grows larger. It will feature steppers, a marching band, floats and decorated cars. Sorority and fraternity groups, churches, schools and civic groups will all be involved in the festivities.
A prayer breakfast will be hosted at the Saint James Christian-Methodist-Episcopal Church on Revis Street at 9:30 a.m. Saturday before the parade. The breakfast will include several two-minute prayers by different ministers praying on topics such as health and education with singing and breakfast provided. The breakfast is free and open to the public.
The parade and prayer breakfast are sponsored by the Theta Xi Zeta Chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.