Celebrations marking the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday began with breakfast and fellowship Monday morning. The Martin Luther King Parade and Celebration Committee held its annual breakfast at Union Station.
"Of course, we were striving for diversity. We live in a community which is diverse," noted Randy Hopson, a member of the committee.
Many local religious leaders were on hand as part of the celebration. Through song and prayer, they were trying to share the wisdom of Dr. King.
"We hope that the people will take away from this breakfast what the prayers reflect. Faith and hope, atonement, reconciliation and most of all, unity," Hopson said.
Meanwhile, The Meridian-Lauderdale branch of the NAACP along with the Boys and Girls Club held its own breakfast. The message was one of remembering Dr. King, but also celebrating the civil rights movement as a whole.
"The entire movement needs to be honored, needs to be kept up with, in front of our children," said Shirley Lyttle, president of the local NAACP. "And some adults have just forgotten how hard it was for us to achieve these rights."
A downtown parade featuring the Mississippi Valley State University Marching Band was the largest ever, with more than fifty entries. A program honoring King capped Meridian's day of tribute. In fact, this is the 20th anniversary of the day being designated in King's honor.
Hundreds lined the streets of Meridian to honor the man who is credited with helping many.
"Absolutely wonderful," said Sharon Smith of Meridian Main Street.
"There was so much unity."
The guest speaker for the day was the newly-elected mayor of Lisman, Ala., Thomas Jackson, 25, the youngest person elected mayor in Alabama.
"And when I talk about passing the torch along, that's exactly what I mean," said Jackson. "That the leaders of today need to pass on and teach the youth of tomorrow."
In doing this, he says it's important to teach them in the ways of Dr. King.
"He chose not use his fist or any such weapon. He chose to use this (his head) and this (his heart)," Jackson said.