Lexington Looks To Avoid Conflicts Over MLK, Lee-Jackson Parades

Jan 11, 2018

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks April 15,1967 at a peace rally in New York City. January 15th is the birthday of the late civil rights leader.
Credit (AP Photo/stf)

In light of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville over the summer, Lexington residents wishing to honor Martin Luther King Jr. have opted for compromise over controversy.

One thing became clear to residents of Lexington after the Charlottesville riots last August: We don’t want that kind of attention here. This, following its own tense parade that pitted anti racists against Confederate heritage groups over the state Lee Jackson holiday last January, two days prior to Martin Luther King’s birthday.

That parade was peaceful but the town decided not to court controversy. So this year? Those wishing to honor Martin Luther King will march on Monday and those wishing to honor Lee and Jackson will march on Saturday.

Still, safety precautions are in place. Reginald Early is a spokesperson for CARE, the organization planning the Dr. King parade.  "We have state and local law enforcement on hand in uniform, as well as incognito."

Nothing that can be used as a weapon, like sticks, poles or boards, is permitted.  He expects more than 700 marchers. “We want this parade to show the true life of Lexington and all of its diversity and inclusiveness,” Early said

In response to city council’s decision several years ago to ban Confederate flags from city flag poles, the Virginia Flaggers, who march on Saturday, have called for a total boycott of Lexington and ask that participants not spend any money inside the city limits.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.