By The Associated Press
JACKSON — Volunteers marked the national holiday for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with service projects in Mississippi’s state capital, engaging in community cleanup work and donating items to a soup kitchen. Others marched in parades around the state.
Students from the Jackson Appreciation Club and Belhaven College said the day of service follows Dr. King’s teachings.
“He was active in the community, so it’s up to us to be active in the community as well and do something positive,” said Kehinde Gaynor, of the Jackson Appreciation Club.
Jackson officials also marked the occasion with the presentation of canned food, personal care items and approximately $15,000 in donated clothing to Stewpot Community Services, which runs a community soup kitchen.
“City of Jackson employees decided this year that they would try to make a difference in the lives of the people who are being served at Stewpot Community Services,” Mayor Harvey Johnson said. “So, we collected about 1,000 canned goods and put together 250 care packages with toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion and things like that, for distribution by Stewpot.”
A parade and a “Battle of the Bands” was part of the celebration in the Biloxi area. At the Mississippi Coast Coliseum more than 10,000 people turned out for the event. The parade and Battle of the Bands this year featured eight bands from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Six-year-old drum major Elisha Murphy was a big hit with the crowd as he danced ahead of The Master’s Touch All-Star Drum Line from Destrehan, La.
The Meridian-Lauderdale County NAACP hosted its annual salute to King with a breakfast meeting focusing on young people.
The theme was “The Product of the Dream: The Promise, the Power, the People.”
“This is a character building situation and having the young people involved … that lets them know who they are and where they come from,” said Tabbotha Adams-Jones, chairwoman for the event.