A different time

Published 10:04 am Saturday, January 21, 2012

YMCA Black Achievers participating in Monday’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial March were, from left in front, Shakira Artis, Chonada Artis, D’Nidra Allen, Janesha Hurdu, Aerial Darden, LeAnna Leonard, Eleyus Fenner, Adrianna Leonard, Lillian Davis, Dorisa Davis and Brittany Joyner; and in back, Ashley Stephens, Shunge Borton, Vincente Jarrett, Elizabeth Hamlin, Andrea Leonard, Ruby Tillery, Kayla Wiggins, Carolyn Hurdle, Jeanette Sessoms, Tyreckka Hawks, Jeffrey Allen, Shamar Ballard, Kevin Watford and Jamal Tillery. -- DON BRIDGERS | TIDEWATER NEWS

Boykins Girl Scout Troop No. 5073 members participating, from left in front, were Indiya Reid, Amani Gary, Julia Hand and Chloe Pope; and in back, Erykah Harris, Breana Whitfield, Brionna Reid, Asya Walton and leader Kisha Watford. -- DON BRIDGERS | TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—Larry Rose remembers when blacks had to sit in the balcony at a former Franklin movie theater, when blacks had their own high school in Franklin and when the local YMCA prohibited blacks.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped changed much of that in America, which is why folks like Rose and Raymond Parker participated in Franklin’s first march for the civil rights leader slain in the spring of 1968. Parker, 62, of Franklin also participated in Monday’s march in Franklin sponsored by Boykins Girl Scout Troop No. 5073, First Baptist Church and Paul D. Camp Community College.

“He stood for justice for everyone,” said Rose, a retired NCAA Division I basketball referee from Courtland. “A lot of people thought it was just for us African-Americans. It was for everybody. I think today we see that.”

The mood of Monday’s march was more in memory of King, Parker said.

The mood in 1968 was one of anger, Rose said.

“They felt the ‘misjustice,’” said Rose, who was a 17-year-old senior at the former Hayden High School in Franklin when he participated 42 years ago. “The youth were more angry than anything else. It just felt like we were treated totally different. It has changed a lot.”

“Look around, (blacks are) in the corporate structure, public structure,” the 62-year-old Southampton High School intervention specialist continued. “You didn’t see that in the ‘60s. You never dreamed of that in 1968.”

A retired Southampton County Sheriff’s deputy, Parker was a junior at Hayden when he participated in that first march. It started at the school and went to downtown Franklin.

“It was a class-like thing,” he said, noting the news of King’s death was very shocking. “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. We were fighting for equality.”

The Boykins’ Girl Scouts held their initial march in 2011 — something Parker hopes will continue. Prior to that, he traveled out of town for Martin Luther King events.