By Patrick B. McGuigan
Oklahoma City’s Martin Luther King parade brought a spectacular conclusion to the 2013 observance of the federal holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader’s legacy and continuing impact in Oklahoma and American history. The event was marked both with praise for Dr. King and to President Barack Obama, who took the ceremonial oath of office as final preparations for the parade were under way.
Participating units came from across the metro area, including Oklahoma City, Spencer and Choctaw. Equestrian units with roots in the state’s black history concluded the event, which was led by a wide range of churches, schools and other groups.
In all, more than 115 units joined the official parade roster this year.
Church of the Living God, St. James Baptist, First Unitarian and many other religious organizations marched or rode on floats. The Peace House was among the lead units, as has been the case for most of the parade’s history.
“Greek” fraternal organizations – both sororities and fraternities, were out in force.
The Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle unit, the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma, Patriots Step group, the Men’s Associated Foundation of Oklahoma City, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Oklahoma After School Network, Jack & Jill of Oklahoma, Clear As Dance, the Marcus Garvey Charter School Panthers, the Teamsters’ local, and classic car groups (including “Old School Cruiser”) were present.
Many businesses brought large contingents for the holiday extravaganza, including AT&T, Cox Communications, and Twice the Cutz Salon.
The Spencer and Oklahoma City Fire Departments, with their sirens and bright engines, were a popular feature for children of all ages. The Oklahoma County Sheriff’ office, including equestrian officers, and the City Police brought messages of solidarity to parade-goers.
The parade concluded a weekend of activities, including religious services (at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, St. John Missionary Baptist, and a prayer breakfast in Midwest City) the silent march from the Freedom Center to the State Historical Society, ringing of the Freedom Bell (state’replica of the Liberty Bell), and the official remembrance at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.