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Annual MLK parade and program held in Prentiss

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight – The annual JeffDavis County celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was held Monday in Prentiss. Program  speakers and personalities were (front l to r) Cammie Reese, Megan Daniels, Deanna Mikell, Ella Johnson, NAACP President Queen Esther Sutton, Guest Speaker Andre Heath, Rosalyn Ragsdale, Supt. of Ed. Ike Haynes, Dulanna Reese, David Bourne. (back l to r) Rev. Jessie Holloway, Grand Marshall Rev. Isaac Carter and Judge Ronnie Barnes.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight – The annual JeffDavis County celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was held Monday in Prentiss. Program speakers and personalities were (front l to r) Cammie Reese, Megan Daniels, Deanna Mikell, Ella Johnson, NAACP President Queen Esther Sutton, Guest Speaker Andre Heath, Rosalyn Ragsdale, Supt. of Ed. Ike Haynes, Dulanna Reese, David Bourne. (back l to r) Rev. Jessie Holloway, Grand Marshall Rev. Isaac Carter and Judge Ronnie Barnes.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade and program were held Monday in Prentiss sponsored by the Jeff Davis County NAACP, APRI and Men of Action. Grand Marshall Rev. Isaac Carter of Zion Church of God in Oakvale led the way in front of the 31 entries that included twelve church buses.

Carter states he attended South Jones School when desegregation took place and it was an adjustment for him and the other children when they had to leave their familiar school. He said the group of minority children was small but they made friends and adjusted. He felt being raised by a Christian family helped him to adjust to changes well.

The parade made its way down Columbia Avenue and ended at the Prentiss High School gym where the memorial program was held.

Minister Bettye Drummond acted as mistress of ceremonies. The Prentiss High School Choir and Trudie Hawkins Mass Choir presented gospel music. Judge Ronnie Barnes presented the state of the county saying, “Dr. King didn’t sacrifice his life for wearing our pants below our butts or for killing each other. We have to come together and put race or color aside and deal with the things that bring us together. We all serve the same God.”

Barnes commended the Unity in the Community organization and stated Jeff Davis County is better because people are trying to do better.

JDC Superintendent of Ed. Ike Haynes presented the state of the schools in the county. He thanked those of leadership for helping the children in so many ways and stated he appreciates what they have done to make things better. Haynes stated in light of recent school shootings there has been a focus on bullying awareness and a meeting with the county sheriff to devise a coordinated plan in case of an event. He also stated that by the middle of February there would be surveillance cameras on every campus to provide more safety.

Haynes informed the group that JDC schools now have a C-ranking, which is average, and are striving for even higher. He stated the focus is to make sure students are career ready and can compete academically with students in any state. He also reminded the group that tests will soon be on the Internet and focus needs to be on the issues of facility improvements.

BHS student Deanna Mikell stated in an oral presentation, “We start with Dr. King and go through generations of people who have paved our way… They fought in ways we cannot imagine.” She encouraged the group to, “stand for freedom to ensure that the fight our forefathers fought is never going to die and be a waste of time. We shall not be moved.”

PHS student Megan Daniels repeated the words of Coretta Scott King stating, “freedom is never really free…we must keep fighting for it with every new generation.” She stated, “If there is anything that our generations together must change, it is that we must not be satisfied with merely getting what we are fighting for, but also focus on holding on to what we have.”

Guest Speaker Andre Heath of USM encouraged those present to 1) educate yourselves, 2) embrace adversity-anything worth having is worth working for, and 3) encourage each other. Heath stated as a board member of the Petal schools it was a blessing to help children get an education and mourned the fact that Mississippi has the highest dropout rate in the nation. He encouraged those present to not expect a handout but work for everything, a different concept from the present culture, and remember that no one owes you anything—if you want something, work for it. Heath also stated there will always be those who do not want to see you succeed so encourage one another to move forward.

The program committee consisted of Chellie Payne, Cammie Reese, Queen Sutton and Carolyn Hathorn who was also parade coordinator.