02/26/12 — Parade: 'A celebration of cultural differences'

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Parade: 'A celebration of cultural differences'

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on February 26, 2012 1:50 AM

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A rider with the Horseshoe Bandits Riding Club from Kenansville takes part in the Black History Parade. Hundreds of motorcycles, dozens of horseback riders and many other entries took part.

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A girl rides with her dog in her toy Jeep Wrangler during the Mount Olive Black History Parade. Those who attended said the parade was more than a celebration of black history -- that it was "a celebration of cultural differences."

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Rose Parks sings during the Black History Parade Saturday, which drew thousands of people to Mount Olive.

The final weekend of February was one filled with events honoring Black History month as Mount Olive's Black History Parade and an annual program sponsored by the Carver Alumni Association were held Saturday.

The parade, which featured hundreds of motorcycles, dozens of horses and countless candy-crazed kids, captivated more than a thousand attendees who lined Breazeale Avenue as it continued toward the Carver Cultural Center where the Carver event would be held later.

But the parade-goers weren't limited to one shade of skin, as those gathered insisted the event wasn't only a celebration of black history, but one of cultural acceptance.

"It's a celebration of cultural differences," Kim Pigford-Parker said as she watched the parade and her niece's children.

Karina Rodriguez concurred with Mrs. Parker's sentiments.

Her tax office is on a stretch of Breazeale Avenue dominated by Spanish-speaking businesses, and the cultural divides of yesteryear, she said, are quickly dissipating as Hispanics and others begin to embrace their place in the culture of the town.

And some of that, she said, has been inspired by movements spurred by black Americans.

"Everybody has an American dream," she said. "They had a dream and now we have a dream."

At the parade's end, however, was where the true dialogue began, as the Carver Alumni Association's Black history program asked the community to look forward toward its next generation of leaders.

The program's keynote speaker, Pastor Steve Wicks of Mount Olive Presbyterian Church, called upon Scripture to illustrate the need for individuals to recognize their neighbors as united children of God.

"No one is to treat anyone else as if they do not matter," he said.

He cited the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well as evidence that Jesus opened the way for relations between Jews and Samaritans, who during that time were not permitted to interact.

"That community was freed by Jesus Christ. We can be a freed community too," he said.

Acting as master of ceremonies was Danny King, the president of the Mount Olive Chapter of the Carver Alumni Association and founder of A Lot of Direction, Love & Affection, located in the Carver Center.

The nonprofit helps to develop skills within at-risk youth in the area.

Following Hicks' address, King gave a heartfelt anecdote of how Hicks and his church had helped out ADLA when they lost funding.

Because of Hicks, he said, the nonprofit was not only able to continue operating, but actually increased the number of children they were reaching.

"Seeing the good work being done through the organization led us to want to support him," Hicks said following the event, adding that the next generation of leaders is well on its way toward uniting all cultures due to advancements in race relations.

Hicks was presented with a plaque thanking him for his contribution to the event to a standing ovation.