Unity March kicks off day of events Saturday

An event billed as a “Unity March & Prayer” on Saturday morning will usher in a day where Biloxi celebrates two of its annual events: Juneteenth and the beachfront wade-ins.

The trio of events arrive against a backdrop of nationwide racial tensions, exacerbated in Mississippi by the move to change the state flag.

In Biloxi, Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said, the city will continue to be its inviting self, but Gilich and city leaders are asking those attending the events to wear masks and be vigilant in steps to avoid spreading or contracting the coronavirus.

“Frankly, in discussions today, I think Biloxi is shortchanged on the tremendous strides we have made as a community,” Gilich said. “Now, everybody’s talking about the flag. We dealt with the flag years ago. As mayor of a city known for its hospitality, we do not want to give anyone reason to not visit our city. We welcome all.”

Route update: The unity march and prayer will begin at the Town Green, travel Main Street north to MLK Boulevard, MLK west to Reynoir, Reynoir south to Howard, then traveling east on Howard before turning south on Lameuse Street, ending at City Hall. Those involved are expected to begin gathering on the Town Green at 8 a.m. for the 9 a.m. event.

 Juneteenth, which takes place at Beck Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., commemorates the date – June 19, 1865 – when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas. The date was two-and-a-half years after the proclamation was signed.

The wade-in observance takes place at 5:30 p.m. at the Lighthouse Park, just west of the Biloxi Visitors Center. The gathering marks events that led to the desegregation of Biloxi beaches in the 1960s. The program at Lighthouse Park will be followed by a teen walk to the beach.
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