Depending upon which part of the state you live in, you may or may not know that for nearly three decades Dallas has had two Martin Luther King Day parades.
One was put on by the city and usually took place the Saturday before the official holiday. The other, which took place on the actual holiday, was hosted by the Blair Family, founders of a traditionally black newspaper called the Elite News. This second parade was known as the People’s Parade and was more open to people or organizations that wanted to join in on the fun.
But this year city officials have announced that they will no longer be two parades. This year they’re moving their parade to Monday, which has some feeling a bit slighted. Specifically Darryl Blair, son to William Blair, Jr., who began the original People’s Parade.
“The city parade was the first parade,” Blair says. “They started the city parade, and what happened was there was no ability for – just as my dad said – the average fellow to be a part of that parade.”
Blair says he’s not knocking the city, his father just wanted a parade “where the people could just participate.”
“That was it,” Blair says. “He was adamant. ‘All I want them to do is come down and participate, be a part of the parade.’”
Blair says his father took issues with the corporate construction of the parade and the length of the parade’s walk.
Elite News isn’t going to do a parade this year, but they are planning a protest parade for the same day as the city’s parade, Blair says. He is looking to have the parade back under the Blair wing by 2017.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Blairs owe the city $33,000 for extra police and fire personnel who were needed for the 2015 event. Blair doesn’t dispute that claim, but says he paid it the day he filed for a permit, 25 days before the event. The city says he was supposed to pay it 60 days after the event.
“We’ve gone through all our documents – my attorneys, and my wife, and I – we’ve gone through all our documents,” Blair says. “It had nothing to do with 60 days.”
Blair says Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is one of celebration, it’s a day of everyone coming together. Not having the people’s parade is more than a disappointment to the community.
“It’s tragic,” Blair says. “If you could talk to those people over at the Martin Luther King Center [in Dallas], who we’ve worked with over the years, they’re devastated. When you look at the fact that what Martin Luther King did across this country, what he did for people – not black people, not Hispanic people, not white people – what he did for people, you can’t celebrate him enough.”