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MLK parade organizers draw upon success of first event
MLK parade 1
Bryan County NAACP president Johnnie Quiller leads the community choir into the kickoff for the 2020 Richmond Hill MLK parade. Photo by Alena Cowley.

It was the first event of its kind in Richmond Hill’s history and organizers are encouraging the public to join in the planning for next year’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade.

The Bryan County NAACP held a kick-off event Saturday afternoon at Restoration Worship Center, located off U.S. 17.

The event included several gospel songs from the Prince of Peace community choir and a liturgical dance. Upbeat music, complete with drums and piano, had the crowd of about 50 on their feet, singing and clapping.

Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter pointed out that besides being a civil rights leader, King was also an ordained minister. The mayor thanked organizers for the invitation and their work in “bringing diversity to Richmond Hill.”

Carpenter shared his favorite MLK quote: "The time is always right to do what’s right."

“As for our second parade, we are doing right by celebrating the life, vision, and purpose of Dr. King and the movement he represents,” Carpenter said.

Sharon and Craig Butts of Unity and the Community, a non-profit organization, lead the initiative to start a MLK parade in Richmond Hill. The couple took the podium and Sharon brought up Juneteenth, a June 19 observation of when slaves learned the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation made them free. She called it a “precursor,” to King’s push for equality.

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of celebrating Dr. King’s dream,” Sharon said.

Craig encouraged the crowd to bring “qualitative change.”

“We want to create a loving community, a beloved community,” Craig said.

In her address, parade chairperson Candice Fife reflected on stories passed down from her grandmother, who marched with King and how the parade theme is about “embracing our community.”

“That’s what Martin Luther King was about” she said. “I have the honor to honor her memory, as well as his.”

Fife also called for more volunteers and parade participants. She outlined ways to get involved in the planning and pointed to more promotional events coming up.

Pastor Daniel Boyd of Emmanuel Christian Church and his wife, Elisha, emceed Saturday’s event.

Bryan County NAACP President and Restoration Worship Center Minister Johnnie Quiller led the community choir.

For more information, call 912-200-7909 or visit


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