The Concerned Citizens of Lamar County will host the 33rd annual Martin Luther King celebration and parade beginning at noon Saturday, Jan. 18, with a memorial service at Spring Chapel Baptist Church of Purvis.
The theme for the program is “Keep Moving Forward in Unity and Peace,” said Harry Breland, the former Oak Grove High School baseball coach who is also one of the event’s organizers.
This year’s featured speaker will be the Rev. Van T. Jones, the Discipleship Pastor of Ministries at Grace Temple Ministries in Hattiesburg.
Jones is a former All-Conference basketball player at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The parade, which starts at the Jefferson Todd Education Center, will follow the memorial service at 1:30 p.m. and will feature three bands: Hattiesburg High, Jefferson County High, and Jim Hill High School in Jackson.
Area motorcycle groups and drill and dance brigades are invited to participate. No four-wheelers and no horses will be allowed in the parade. There is no entry fee.
Breland said the event will not only honor King, but academic and athletic achievements will be highlighted.
“Part of our idea is to bring the communities together, with Sumrall, Oak Grove, Purvis and Lumberton,” he said. “We recognize some of the people that have done well. We always give plaques out to the schools. As you know, Lamar County has one of the state’s outstanding school districts. So we give that to let them know that education is important and we want them to know that we appreciate their hard work.”
This year, the entire school district will be lauded for receiving an ‘A’ achievement rating from the Mississippi Department of Education, along with individiual schools from throughout the district.
Gary Ivy and Sheila Kribbs, two longtime Lamar County educators who are retiring this year, will also be honored.
Ivy, who graduated from Southern Miss in 1980, is the longtime girls softball coach at Oak Grove. Kribbs has been an educator for more than 42 years and after a lengthy stint in Oak Grove, and spent five years as principal at Sumrall High before retiring in December.
“Then we will recognize outstanding student athletes from each school,” explained Breland. “We do a lot of good stuff to try to motivate people to do good things and we want to let to the community know that we are proud of them.”
Breland said the Martin Luther King celebration and parade has always had two purposes.
“We want the program to be educational for the kids, but we also want them to understand that they can do this too,” he said. “We present certificates to two or three kids from each football team and two or three from each boys and girls basketball teams that have shown citizenship, scholarship and sportsmanship.”
This year’s honorees include:
- Football: Jayson Buckley and Xavier Holder
- Boys Basketball: Tavis Toney and Roland O’Banner
- Girls Basketball: Jameya Johnson and Makia Willis
- Football: Damon Stewart, Caleb Fortenberry, Liam Breithaupt, Tavion Smith, Graham McCarty, Javarian Jenkins, Tyree Jackson, Joey Griffith, and Kelsey Davis
- Boys Basketball: Blake Roberts, Deon Hall, and Matthias Gustafson
- Girls Basketball: Taylor Norma, Janiyah Ramsey, and Shakiya Bolton
- Football: Nathan Emfinger, Jesse Johnson, and Savanna Cooper
- Boys Basketball: Logan Thornton, Camron Cummings, and Tyler Hill
- Girls Basketball: Jaelyn Bass and Bree Gray
- Football: Cole Daniels, Daniel Nelson, and Tyler Daniels
- Boys Basketball: Josh Green, Tyler Williamson, and Ethan Aultman
- Girls Basketball: Dayna McCloud, Londyn Robertson, and Kambry Williamson
Anyone who wants more information on the event can contact Breland at (601) 268-0844 or (601) 297-3489.