Continuing a legacy
MOLLIE F. BELT | 1/26/2015, 11:43 a.m.
The Dallas Examiner
Monday was the 29th year of the Elite News Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and Festival in Dallas. It was the first year without Bill Blair, founder of the parade and publisher of the Elite News. Daryl Blair, his son and current publisher of the newspaper and chairman of the parade, chose me to be one of the grand marshals for the parade – and it was indeed an honor.
The parade has been reported by many news sources to be one of the top parades in the nation.
During the parade, Martin Luther King Blvd. was lined with thousands of people – women, men and children – the elderly and the young. It was a jubilant celebration of King’s birthday.
Local high school bands, organizations, elected officials and companies all participated in the celebration. Local television and radio stations covered the parade.
So many things in our community that were created by individuals have vanished. The Elite’s MLK parade is an example of what one man can do. Bill Blair not only published a newspaper 52 weeks a year, through good and hard times, but he started a parade that lives on today.
Many say that Dallas only needs one parade. However, we disagree.
The Elite’s parade demonstrates how a privately owned Black business can start something and consistently do it year after year. I am sure that it is not easy – even though the economy is suppose to be better, it is still difficult to get financial support for events.
It also demonstrates how a family can work together. Daryl Blair was the chair, but his sister, Debra Blair Abron, and his wife, Lorie Blair, worked with him to make it a festive event. Also, many community leaders helped.
Prior to the parade there was a VIP breakfast at St. Martin’s Place to thank sponsors and grand marshals. It was also a time to reflect on the contributions of King and the struggle to make his birthday a national holiday.
Some floats played King’s speeches and his voice could be heard along the path.
The 67th Book of the Bible
On Monday night, the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture presented the 10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium at the City Performance Hall. Dr. Johnathan Rieder discussed the importance of King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Rieder is the author of the book, Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation.
Afterward, the audience had an opportunity to see the world premiere of the play, The 67th Book of the Bible, written by local playwright, Jonathan Norton. The play is excellent. While King’s character is not in the play, King is represented in the play. It centers around Kings’ scratches of his writings being concealed on napkins, toilet tissue, newspapers and a greasy paper bag and carried out of the jail under his lawyer’s pant legs. The attorney then took the writings to his secretary to be transcribed – a daunting task, since she did not receive it all at once and the scraps were difficult to write on and read. The writings became known as Letter from Birmingham Jail.