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Sunday, April 7, 2024

Rescheduled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2024 Events in Kingsport

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             (Courtesy the Kingsport Times-News)

KINGSPORT— Kingsport hosted its annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade Saturday afternoon. After two months of rescheduling due to inclement weather and other scheduling issues, the parade proceeded on its new route down Sullivan Street.

Bishop Ronnie Collins, parade organizer, said changes to the route were put in place to protect participants and keep them safe. “One reason that we're on this road is because throughout the country, over the last few years, there have been people who are driving into parades and killing people and hurting people,” said Collins. “What we've done, now because our parade is small, is that we’re coming down one street so they can block the whole thing off on both sides so that there's no room for that.”

The theme of this year’s parade was “The Answer to Racism is the Love of Christ and Show Love More in 2024.” Members of the community walked in the parade, alongside other city officials and representatives. Vice Mayor Colette George and Alderman Darrell Duncan carried the banner at this year’s parade.

“I've been here almost every single year because I think this is what our city's about,” said George. “Like they said, unity is part of the community, and it's always a nice parade. They do a wonderful job with it.” Duncan said the parade has served as a way to form lasting connections with the community. “Some of the friendships that I've made here over the years from this I’ve had forever,” Duncan said. “This is how I met Bishop Collins. It is [about] unity, but to me, it's [about] bonding and friendship." 

The parade concluded in the parking lot of City Hall, where Mayor Pat Shull presented a proclamation making Jan. 15 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the city of Kingsport. The proclamation marks Kingsport’s 24th year of observance of the federal holiday. “I know that everybody knows that Martin Luther King Day was in January, but I suspect that Dr. King would be more concerned with the fact that you're dedicated to his vision,” said Shull. “That's what I think he would appreciate. And what a great vision it was, about peace and unity and love for fellow Americans.” 

Collins said that King’s assassination left a lasting impact on him. He said it felt like the loss of a family member. “It's almost like he was part of the family,” Collins said. "For you all who don't understand, the day I heard and our family heard, we started crying like it was a brother, a sister, a daddy or grandma." Collins said King’s legacy and impact has always stuck with him, as a reminder that the community can make a difference. “It's all about loving instead of hating,” said Collins. “Trying to bring us all together, trying to treat people the way you want to be treated, but most importantly letting the love of Christ come through you so people can see that it does not have to be the bad, it can be good.”


New Vision Youth hosted its annual MLK Day Luncheon in the Riverview Community Room at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center later that afternoon.   Appreciation awards were also given out at the luncheon to the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Eastman Connect, Van Dobbins and Calvin Sneed.

A Candlelight Vigil was held later in the evening at the Shiloh Baptist Church.