02/28/10 — Parade celebrates Black History Month

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Parade celebrates Black History Month

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on February 28, 2010 8:12 AM

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Darius E. Carlton, of Mount Olive, holds his 13-month-old granddaughter Deja Carlton on his shoulders for a view of the Mount Olive Black History Month Parade on Saturday.


Fifteen-year-old twins Sashawn Maddix, right, and Lashawn Maddix hold a banner bearing the images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Obama in the Mount Olive Black History Month Parade on Saturday.

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James Jarmond does his Michael Jackson impersonation during School Street Elementary school's Black History Month Celebration. Each grade performed in a Michael Jackson theme talent show.

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First graders at School Street Elementary perform during the school's Black History Month Celebration. Each grade performed in a Michael Jackson theme talent show. Students read statements declaring the achievements of famous African Americans.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Thousands turned out Saturday afternoon to celebrate the contributions and honor the struggles of black Americans at the second annual Mount Olive Unity group Black History Month Parade.

About 3,000 people lined the town's streets for the second annual event, which caps the February observation of Black History Month across Wayne County.

Alvin Ward attended to see his son Daniel, 9, ride on the Goldsboro Continental Society's float.

"It means a lot to be an African-American," Ward said. "I mean, a lot of things we've gone through and a lot of things we're still going through, but this means a lot to show some positive things from the African-American community."

Celebrating Black History Month through the parade is especially important for children, because it allows them to experience positive influences, he said.

"I think more minority children need to see this," the father of four said.

His own sons and young daughter were among the children enjoying the parade. Many others took an active part, riding on floats and waving from the back of pickup trucks. The EFC truck, decorated with colorful hand print cutouts and pictures of influential black Americans, was among those packed with young smiling faces.

Gwen Bass said seeing more children involved in the day's celebration was especially important to her.

"I like to see the little children get involved. You know, a lot of times when we have parades, it's mostly made up of adults, but I like to see that they got the children involved," she said.

It was Ms. Bass' first time attending the parade. She went with her family, including her mother and children. She said that after missing the first parade and hearing about it, she wanted to be a part of it this year.

"It means a lot that we're getting some recognition, and I'm glad that someone finally decided to do it. I'm liking the theme that they've got going," she said.

Floats in this year's parade were decorated with the theme "United We Stand."

Sen. Don Davis served as the Grand Marshal. State NAACP president, the Rev. Dr. William Barber of Goldsboro, acted as Marshal.

Several entries from out of town took part in the day's event. The Wells Fargo stagecoach, an authentic reproduction of the bank's old Western frontier horse-drawn stagecoaches, took the lead at the head of the procession and a Marine Corps band from Camp Lejeune stepped smartly down Breazeale Avenue.

Local school marching bands, dance groups and color guards, including those from Eastern Wayne High School, Spring Creek High School and Goldsboro High School, also made their way down the parade route. The parade also drew a large number of commercial entries.

Classic car owners cruised down the road, throwing candy to eager children or honking loudly to the excited crowds. Several entries played gospel music and displayed quotes and images of historic black civil rights leaders, inventors, politicians, doctors and other influential figures. Area churches also participated, including Woods Chapel Free Will Baptist, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and many others.

Later, Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald proclaimed Saturday as Black History Day in Mount Olive during a celebration at the Carver Cultural Center.

The joint presentation, by A Lot of Direction, Love and Affection structured day program, Carver Alumni and Friends Association, the Mount Olive Area Historical Society and the Town of Mount Olive, drew dozens of people for a meal and a special message.

Wayne County has had its own share of influential African-Americans, speakers said. Lavon-De Driver presented a memorial in honor of the late Naomi Washington, a former Carver school teacher who was an outstanding example of being a leader to the next generation.

"Mrs. Washington was one of the greatest, most dedicated teachers, who pushed her students to excel," she said. "She is a part of black h istory because she molded the minds of those of us who had the privilege to go through her class. We could do anything we put our minds to."

That kind of support is vital to encouraging students, Mrs. Driver said.

"She knew that Carver High, Carver Elementary had people who would one day be somebody. That was the kind of person she was. She didn't hesitate to say a job well done. That's what kids need today," she said.

Featured speaker Apostle Catherine Newsome, founder and senior pastor of the Spirit-Filled Family Worship Center, encouraged African-Americans to pursue economic equality through education, wise conservation of wealth and supporting minority-owned businesses. African-Americans today have greater spending power than ever before, but only a very small amount of that money goes to locally-operated businesses owned by black entrepreneurs. That is something that should change, Mrs. Newsome said.

"We have a long ways to go, but we came a mighty long way," she said.