Councilwoman grand marshal for MLK Jr. parade
by Sarah Fay Campbell
It’s time for the 27th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in Newnan.
The two-day event, featuring Friday’s memorial program and Saturday’s parade, is sponsored each year by Newnan Chapter 483, Order of the Eastern Star.
The memorial program is 7 p.m. Friday at Zion Hill Baptist Church on Pinson Street. The parade will leave from Newnan High School at noon on Saturday. It will head north on LaGrange Street, through the Court Square and along Jackson Street (against the normal flow of traffic), ending at Willie Lynch Park.
This year’s parade grand marshal is Newnan City Councilwoman Cynthia Jenkins, who also serves as the city’s mayor pro tem. The theme for this year’s event is “Illuminating the Star through Rededication, Reclamation and Education for the Growth of the Future."
“It definitely is an honor [to be chosen as grand marshal],” said Jenkins. “It’s one of those honors in your community that you get” for your own personal achievements, not something related to business or education.
“Really, it is a recognition of your community contributions,” Jenkins said, and “an affirmation that I must be doing something right in the community and the OES is supportive of those things that I am trying to get done in the community.”
It’s Jenkins’ second time as parade grand marshal. The first was in 2004, just after she was elected to her first term on the Newnan City Council, becoming the first African-American woman to be elected to the council.
The first selection was “a hopeful thing,” Jenkins said. Now, she sees it as more of an encouraging thing.
The MLK celebrations are a great opportunity “for our community as a whole to reflect on where we have been and how far we have come,” Jenkins said.
She would like to see more community participation in the celebration. “Not just African-Americans, but everybody,” Jenkins said. “I wish more of the community at large would participate.”
Dr. King “wanted us to be a more fair society and a more integrated society. I would really like to see our MLK celebration be more integrated,” Jenkins said.
Chapter 483 has been organizing the event for 27 years and, so far, despite spates of bad weather, the parade has always gone forward.
“I congratulate the ladies of the OES for continuing to do this” through the years, Jenkins said.
This year’s chairwoman for the event is Margaret Thompson. Thompson wanted to recognize Past Worthy Matron Sarah Williams for getting the annual event started nearly 30 years ago, and Cynthia Finney and the members of the Easter Star youth chapter for their input into the events.
For more information about the Newnan memorial program and parade, or to order T-shirts and sweatshirts, contact OES Worthy Matron Margaret Blandenburg, 770-254-1491; Sister Brenda Carter, 770-251-1107; Sister Jewel Moore, 770-252-5875; Sister Wendy Freeman-Smith, 770-251-9958, or any Newnan Chapter 483 representative.