Montevallo celebrates King’s legacy
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
MONTEVALLO – More than 100 attendees celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the ninth annual program and parade at Montevallo High School Jan. 21.
Longtime Montevallo resident Dr. Earl Cunningham said pulling the event together has been an “uphill struggle” since he and former Mayor Ben McCrory began the tradition nine years ago.
Cunningham said the legacy King began more than 50 years ago continues today.
“It’s been good, and it’s been great, but the fight is not over,” Cunningham told those in attendance. “The fight is still going. It may not be as brutal, but it’s still going.”
Montevallo High Principal Gary Minnick, Mayor Hollie Cost and Dr. John W. Stewart III, president of the University of Montevallo, attended the celebration and welcomed attendees.
Rev. Kenneth Dukes and Quincy Whitehead, director of the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo, organized the event.
Dukes introduced Rev. A.L. Jones to share memories of Shelby County’s black history.
Jones recalled returning home after serving in the U.S. Army, and when he registered to vote in Columbiana, he faced a poll tax and literacy test. He also spoke of a time when black citizens could only bag groceries and sweep the floors at local grocery stores, rather than man the registers.
“All we wanted was fairness,” he said. “That’s all we were asking for – fairness. Montevallo has come a long way, but still has a long way to go.”
Dr. Michael Reese, the guest speaker, said the event was to “honor a mortal man with an immortal dream.”
“When we march, we inspire, and we raise hopes to new levels,” Reese said. “Are we celebrating with a monument rather than a movement? Would Dr. King be proud of what we’ve accomplished in America?”
Before announcing Montevallo High PE teacher Bobby Pierson as the parade’s grand marshal, Dukes distinguished between a parade and a march.
A parade, he said, is “something where you sit on the side and watch,” while a march is “something you take part of.”
“Let’s not make this a parade,” Pierson said. “Let’s make it a march.”