MOUNT OLIVE

Za’mya Tann, 8, looked up Breazeale Avenue expectantly as the annual Black History Month Parade began its route Saturday.

She and her brother Zy’mire, 4, were mostly excited for the candy thrown by the parade participants. Their mother, Keiandria Jordan, had a different reason for bringing the two out.

“We come here every year, ever since we were kids,” she said. “It’s history, it’s just fun.”

Jordan, who said she used to live in Mount Olive but is originally from Kenansville, said that she feels a sense of community whenever she comes to the parade. Around her, crowds of people lined the street waiting for the show to start as kids laughed and played and hip-hop music played in the distance.

Within a few minutes, the parade began rolling down the road. Among the participants were Southern Wayne High School, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, A Drummer’s World and dozens of vehicles promoting individual businesses or political figures. Rep. Raymond Smith was the grand marshal, while Jerilyn Lee, Wayne County human resources director, served as marshal. The Unity Organization sponsors the parade.

The parade began on Talton Avenue, then traveled south down Breazeale Avenue before ending at the Carver Cultural Center.

March 2 was not the original intended date for the parade –– it was supposed to take place Feb. 23, but had to be rescheduled due to rain. The skies were clear and beautiful on Saturday despite rainy weather the night before, with a temperature of around 70 degrees and a slight breeze.

Sitting in their car along the side of the road, Aaron and Portia Smith watched the parade go by.

Aaron Smith said that he hopes Black History Month events will help teach young black people about their culture and about the value of hard work.

“A lot of young people think that the here and now is the here and now, they don’t really think about what got us to this place,” he said with a laugh. “As I was growing up, I was working in the fields, picking cucumbers.”

Aaron Smith is from Mount Olive but lives in Goldsboro, and said he wanted to visit the parade to support a good cause.

“I think this is a good thing they’re doing with generating awareness of black history,” he said. “For our youth especially, letting them know where we are and where we came from. Just the overall awareness of it.”