Alcorn, J-State and Valley on tap again for MLK Day in Biloxi

Biloxi will again be hosting the big three — Alcorn State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University – for its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Parade, and you’ll also see the Biloxi High School band in the parade, along wth two other high school bands.

Biloxi’s parade and battle of the bands takes place on Monday, Jan. 19, is part of a Coastwide MLK celebration that will feature a Sunday afternoon observance at the Coast Convention Center, where Rev. (Dr.) Wallace Hartsfield, pastor of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City and former president of the Congress of National Black Churches Inc. The program begins at 2:30 p.m.

But it’s the downtown Biloxi affair on Monday that has been attracting several thousand spectators to see marching bands from predominantly black state colleges in a parade and in a battle of the bands at Yankie Stadium after the parade.

The city first hosted the three renowned marching bands in 1999, as part of the Tricentennial Celebration, and has worked to have all three return each year for MLK Day.

“Biloxi has become known as having one of the best-attended MLK celebrations in the Southeast,” said Mayor A.J. Holloway, who annually speaks on the stadium program, along with City Councilman Eric Dickey and others. “We’re looking for another great day this year.”

The parade, which also will feature the Moss Point High marching band and a band from a Mobile area high school. is supposed to begin at 11 a.m. at the Biloxi Community Center, travel west on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, north on Reynoir Street, east on Esters Boulevard, north on Main and east on Division Street to Yankie Stadium.

An MLK carnival, with amusement rides, will begin Thursday and continue through Monday at the Yankie Stadium parking lot, organizers said.

Civic groups or individuals wishing to participate in the parade should call Vonnie Travis, 436-4048.

The Monday program at the stadium will begin about 1 p.m. or when the bands march into the visitors stands. An MLK program, featuring guest speaker Rep. Chuck Espy of Clarksdate, who will precede the battle of the bands.

Biloxi’s MLK event is being sponsored by the City of Biloxi, the Biloxi branch of the NAACP, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, the Coastwide Committee for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, along with support from Beau Rivage Resort and Casino and other businesses.