02/23/14 — Parade in Mount Olive celebrates black history

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Parade in Mount Olive celebrates black history

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on February 23, 2014 1:50 AM

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Cheerleaders from Dillard Middle School march down Breazeale Avenue during Saturday's Black History Parade in Mount Olive.

Blank faces, fancy footwork and frenzied stick-flips are the norm for A&T State University's all-male drum line, known as Cold Steel. And for some in the band, their participation in Mount Olive's Black History Parade on Saturday was a sort of homecoming, assistant instructor and Goldsboro native Darrell Lewis said.

Lewis, an alumni from Eastern Wayne High School, had heard about the parade for a few years, but prior commitments had always stopped the drum line from making the trip from Greensboro. This year was different. The band's strong and hard percussion acted as the 6th Annual Mount Olive Black History Parade's grand finale and got the crowd dancing and yelling in approval Saturday afternoon.

"We just wanted to be a part of (the parade)," Lewis said. "We knew what it stands for."

The Black History Parade is the result of months of hard work by organizers Vicky Darden and Sheila Oates who wanted to bring a true celebration of black history to the area after realizing that there was a need for it. Now, they look forward to the event every year.

"I'm excited. I'm ready. You know I'm ready, and thank God for this weather," Mrs. Darden said.

Saturday featured blue skies and a temperature of 65.

"I just want to thank everybody," Mrs. Oates said. "We're going to celebrate."

In its sixth year, the event now brings thousands of attendees -- white, black, and other minorities -- into the town to watch school marching bands play, clowns goof around and motorcycles roar.

For A&T's Cold Steel, they came to perform. The 35 men, dressed in blue and gold, wowed the crowd with their stick work, some keeping the beat on a fellow percussionist's drums while keeping eyes straight ahead.

"It's just a way to come back and show our hard work," Lewis said.

Another surprise this year was Camp Lejeune's 2nd Marine Division Band.

The Marine band led the parade and played the national anthem for the crowd before the Rev. Timothy Dorch, pastor of Eastern Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, recited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Other entrees in the parade were some of the more mainstays.

At least eight marching bands from Wayne County schools played and performed. Local politicians threw candy and made appearances. The Wayne shrine Club's Sudan Mini-Rigs zipped around. Mount Olive's Church of Deliverance Outreach Ministries even packed a float decorated with black historical figures and kept a steady call and answer of "This is our future."

Almost 100 motorcycles made up the center of the parade. The roars and whines of the varied motorcycle clubs from across the state had some children clamping hands over ears and retreating from the side of the Breazeale Avenue.

Others got closer. Natasha Frazier, from Smithfield, brought her 1-year-old, Lamar McWilliams, and 3-year-old Tavares McWilliams to the parade for a family outing in order to see their father ride past.

"They wanted to see dad with the bike club and everybody else in it," Mrs. Frazier said. "And to have fun."