MLK planners change venue to old theater

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A change of plans for Monday’s second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration will shed light on the strides Kilgore has taken from decades past.

Organized for the second time by Kilgore Men of Alliance and supporters, the event’s unity march will once again begin at the Rev. Alvin R. Mayfield’s West Side Barber Shop at 513 Martin Luther King Blvd. However, the parade will head in a different direction than 2017 – not to MLK Park, as originally planned, but toward downtown Kilgore and the Texan Theater.

Co-organizer Victor Boyd notes the unity march will still kick-off at 10 a.m. However, participants are invited to park near the Crim Theater on South Kilgore Street from 9 a.m. to be shuttled to the barbershop and the beginning of the parade.

Once the parade reaches the Texan Theater, about 10:30 a.m., the same schedule of events awaits – with one addition.

Mayfield was the key honoree during 2017’s inaugural event, and he’ll be featured again this year as a keynote speaker, Boyd said, offering a “historical moment” featuring the 2018 venue.

“Since we’re using the Texan, we’re going to have him do a history, give a little insight on what it was like for the blacks to attend then to where we are now,” Boyd noted, “what this symbolizes.”

In the days of segregation, Kilgore’s black residents were pointed to a side-door at the theater, he confirmed, then relegated to the Texan’s balcony.

Today, with the theater in the early stages of a long-term renovation, the ceremony on Martin Luther King Jr. Day will highlight how far it – and the community – have come, Boyd said.

“This is going to be a historical, eye-opening event on Monday.”

After the 10 a.m. unity march from MLK Boulevard to the downtown theater and in addition to Mayfield’s remarks, plans for Monday’s celebration include a ceremony beginning at about 10:30 a.m. in the Texan. The event will feature a handful of entertainers as well as honors for six people for their contributions to Kilgore.

The presentations and performances should last about an hour, Boyd said: breaking by noon, guests at the open-to-the-public event will be invited to buy their lunches from food trucks and vendors recruited for the celebration. There will be snowcones and hot chocolate as well plus bounce houses for children.

It’s an opportunity for everyone in the community to come celebrate MLK Day, Boyd said, and to experience follow it with a public meal from the food trucks – he hopes the rolling cuisine will catch on for future activities.

From the march to the activities in the theater, Monday’s event will run rain or shine, Boyd added.

“We are gonna make it happen.”

Find updates on Facebook via “Kilgore Men of Alliance” and Facebook.com/WelcomeToKilgore.

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