Residents march down Montevallo Main Street in recognition of MLK Day

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Members of the Shelby County chapter of the NAACP marched down the streets of Montevallo in reverence and recognition of the actions of Martin Luther King Jr. during the holiday on Monday, Jan. 15.

The Shelby County NAACP Unit 50Ab and the Dr. M.L. King, Jr. Commemorative Committee celebrated the 20th annual UNITY March and Program on Jan. 15.

“We consider it very important to commemorate the life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and honor those in our community who have served the community well in the spirit of Dr. King,” said Carolyn Shields, president of the Shelby County NAACP. “That’s why we do this program every year (on) MLK day to recognize those organizations and make sure that our kids remember what he brought to us and how he got us to where we are now.”

Participants marched down the streets of Montevallo on Martin Luther King Jr. Day after lining up behind the McDonald’s parking lot before travelling to Montevallo High School to attend the annual program.

“The march really brings the awareness out in the community—those who don’t march, those who have work—they will see a group of people marching,” said Teresa Stafford, secretary for the Shelby County chapter of the NAACP. “We marched and began this program to say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re about.’ We come together to march and then we show that each person is doing community service, and we want to recognize them for that was well.”

During the program, attendees were treated to a musical performance by the Unity March Choir as well as an award ceremony and a speech by a guest speaker. This year, Attorney Ashley N. Bell served as the guest speaker and grand marshall for the program.

“Today we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of the sacrifices he (made) to make sure that our communities (are) at where they are now,” Bell said.

Bell is a Mobile native and an active resident of Shelby County as well as a practicing attorney and the founder of A. Bell Law Firm, LLC. She also serves as a municipal court judge.

“It was very important that I participated as the grand marshall and speaker for this program because I too believe in equality, I believe in equity and I believe that we all need to put our differences aside and live the dream,” she said.

Bell said she believes in living in Martin Luther king Jr.’s dream of a diverse community without discrimination and racism and that, despite coming a long way, there is still a long way to go.

“My favorite part of the program is looking out on the audience and seeing so many young children here commemorating Dr. King and the sacrifices he’s made (and) the movement,” she said. “And it’s a diverse crowd so that really, really motivates me. It’s really encouraging.”

After the program. the Rev. Kenneth Dukes expressed his gratitude to the city for its aid in the event’s success over the past 20 years and for the assistance in making sure an accident never occurs.

Stafford shared spoke on the  importance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“It’s really to make the community aware, individually,” she said. “I think it’s been overly saturated to where we begin to ignore what is actually happening in the political arena—as far as voting. If we don’t stand up to vote and if we don’t continue to teach our people, ‘Do not let this go dormant’ (than) we will go back to where we don’t want to be in the ‘50s, ‘40s and ‘60s where we didn’t have the privileges of equality (and) equity.”