By CHERIL VERNON

Messenger Copy Editor

PALESTINE – Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy will be celebrated during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Palestine on Monday. Following the parade, a special program, lunch and balloon release are planned.

“We are inviting everyone to participate in the parade or come out and watch the parade,” event coordinator Vickey Chivers told the Messenger Thursday.

The parade will start at 10 a.m. Monday at the Anderson County Courthouse, located at 500 N. Church St. The parade will start at the intersection of Church and Spring streets.

“The parade route will go straight down Spring Street,” Chivers said.

The parade will end at the Palestine Farmer’s Market, located at 815 W. Spring St.

“We will have cars, floats, horses, motorcycles, local elected officials, as well as local businesses and different organizations in the parade,” Chivers said. “We have Martin Luther King Jr. T-shirts and car magnets for people to use for the parade.

Parade Grand Marshal will be Dr. Shirley J. McKellar, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 1. McKellar also will be the guest speaker for the program following the parade.

Parade line-up will start at 9:15 a.m. Monday at the Anderson County Courthouse Square.

“Churches and other non-violent organizations are encouraged to join us in the parade,” Chivers said.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is sponsored by the Concerned Citizens Action Group of Anderson County Inc. Chivers, who also serves as a Palestine City Councilwoman, is the organization’s president.

Other sponsoring groups include Texas Democratic Women, Anderson County Negro Historical Preservation Society, The Pride of Palestine, Order of Eastern Star , the Palestine Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club Inc. and the Palestine branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Following the parade, the public is invited to attend the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration program starting at 11 a.m. at Ben E. Keith Community Room, located at 2019 W. Oak St. in Palestine. A free lunch will be served to those in attendance.

“Dr. King was an extraordinary individual who was for all people. He was for non-violence,” Chivers said. “He once said ‘life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others? I encourage everyone not only to celebrate Dr. King but to do as he did, to do for others.”

Following the program, a balloon release will be held in the Ben E. Keith Community Room parking lot.

For more information about the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Palestine, call Chivers at 903-391-3768. Parade coordinator Diane Davis can be reached at 903-922-9738.

About the Speaker

McKellar, who is retired from the United States Army and has more than 40 years experience in nursing and education, will serve as the guest speaker for the Palestine luncheon. She is the founder and chief executive officer of McKellar-McKellar-Ntaka and Associates, Inc., a non-profit organization. Under McKellar’s leadership the grass-roots organization has launched several projects in East Texas. The corporation has held state contracts from working with sexually and physically abused women and children in 12 counties in Texas, to serving as site manager for the African American Breast Cancer Outreach Project.

McKellar grew up around the family-owned and operated Mitchell Erwin Roses of East Texas, which, at that time, provided a large portion of the roses for the annual Rose Festival of Tyler.

McKellar has pioneered more than one grassroots initiative. She established a non-profit organization to aid abused women and children, provided mediation services and managed the African American Breast Cancer Outreach Program. She initiated a children’s evening care program that was open until midnight. She is a national and international motivational speaker on breast cancer and other women’s issues.

McKellar served as a nurse in the Army. In December 2002 she was called to active duty, serving 18 months overseas in support of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Enduring Freedom.” During that time in service to her country, she received two war ribbons and two medals, the Meritorious Service Medal (highest non-battle award) and Army Commendation Medal. Among other accomplishments during her 11 active years in the military she received five additional medals. She served as Officer-In-Charge in many areas including Combat Life Saving School, establishing the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center in the European Theater and serving as Chief Nurse.She also addressed the 4th European Congress on “Healthcare Disparities” in Berlin.