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Clayton celebrating MLK with parade, church service

State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) recites excerpts from some of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s more famous speeches during last year’s Clayton County MLK Parade. This year’s parade will take place Monday at 12 p.m. (File Photo)

State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) recites excerpts from some of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s more famous speeches during last year’s Clayton County MLK Parade. This year’s parade will take place Monday at 12 p.m. (File Photo)

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Members of the Electra Special No. 109 Eastern Star waive to well-wishers during last year’s Clayton County MLK Parade. (File Photo)

JONESBORO — Eight Clayton County high school bands will roll out the drums and put out a call with their trumpets “while the people shout, ‘Strike up the band,’ ” As George Gershwin would say, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. next week.

The Elijah Masonic Lodge 309 and the Electra Special No. 109 Eastern Star will host their 13th annual MLK Parade Monday at 12 p.m. in Jonesboro. Organizer Herman Turner said about 50 groups and bands will participate in this year’s parade.

“We expect it to be as big as it is every year and we’re just encouraging people to come out and enjoy the parade,” said Turner.

While the annual parade is the most visible sign that Clayton County is observing the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, it is not the only celebration. Smaller events and activities are expected to take place this weekend and Monday to commemorate King’s life and work.

Another event that will — as has become tradition — kick off the events is the Concerned Black Citizens Coalition of Clayton County’s 29th Annual Clayton County Ecumenical Service. The group, led by State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro) will hold the service Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Andrews Chapel United Methodist Church, 122 Watterson St., in Jonesboro.

The guest speaker at the service will be Bishop William L. Sheals, who is the pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Norcross. Sheals has written eight inspirational books and has received several awards including the Presidential Special Citizens Award, the Gwinnett County NAACP Lifetime Achievement, Who’s Who in Black America and the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award.

The public is invited to attend the service, just as it is invited to attend the parade.

For anyone wishing to attend the parade, its route begins behind the Clayton County Police Department headquarters. It will travel south on McDonough Street to Johnson Street, where it will cross the rail road tracks and turn south onto Main Street. It will eventually end at the Historic Clayton County Courthouse in downtown Jonesboro.