WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI) – Marches honoring Dr. King have become quite common in the year’s since his assassination. These days, they are unifying family affairs.
It wasn’t always that way.
West Point residents walking down main street Monday honored the memory and legacy of the man known as the drum major for justice and equality. They were unhindered as they moved peacefully along.
That was not the case in the 1960’s, as those charged with keeping the peace, dealt harshly, sometimes violently, with marchers.
“Oh, it have been, we’d get hollering at us or saying ugly words at us,” said Estella C. Bowen, West Point.
West Point resident Estella Bowen has been marching ever since the marches began.
There are no taunts, finger pointing, bottle throwing, or barking dogs, just a calm, peaceful celebration.
“Long time ago when we started that what was happening. But it doesn’t happen now. At least it hasn’t in the last few years,” said Bowen.
“Not any violence or gun shots. Praise God for that,” said Rev. Clementine Mays, Poplar Springs CME Church.
“Yes very different. And in fact we did have some other ethnicities marching with us. It was a mix race march. And the law enforcement of course was, guided us along the way and we are so proud of them. They always help us,” said Anna Hayford-Jones, Event Organizer.
This year’s march in West Point just happens to coincide with the presidential inauguration going on in Washington, D.C.
West Point marchers are continuing the legacy.
“Cause we are celebrating two great men. Doctor King as well as our President of the United States, being sworn in as the 45th president,” added Hayford-Jones.
One thing is indeed certain, In this time of legislated equality, there are no more police dogs ready to maul those citizens as they walk along.
Each step is a celebration of nonviolence, freedom and peace.
“We try to do what Doctor King has stressed and that is non-violence. So much can be accomplished through love. It doesn’t always , have to be violence,” said Rev. Mays.
“All they did was just blocked the road for us and everybody respected that. Cause we’ve been doing this for 25 years now. And everybody comes out their houses. Even if they don’t march they wave at us and that gives us a support,” said Hayford-Jones.
This year’s MLK March in West Point highlighted the participation of children.