The Battle of the Bands was going strong this afternoon at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, where more than 10,000 people turned out for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
The day was especially historic because it also marked the swearing in of Barack Obama for a second term as president. As Coast residents prepared for the parade, Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, became the first non-clergy member to deliver the inaugural invocation.
James Crowell, chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, said the Battle of the Bands and the parade that precedes it gives young people a chance to learn about the civil rights leader's legacy.
The parade and Battle of the Bands this year featured eight bands from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Six-year-old drum major Elisha Murphy was a big hit with the crowd as he danced ahead of The Master's Touch All-Star Drum Line from Destrehan, La.
Harrison County Supervisor William Martin served as grand marshal of the parade, which featured 55 units.
Carmen Herrien of Wiggins attended the parade with five nieces and nephews, ages four to 10. They wanted to know why school was out Monday. She told them about King and how he had fought to end segregation, give them the right to vote and spread equality.
"One of them asked me, 'Is he going to be at the parade?' " she said. "I said, 'No, Baby, he's gone to heaven.' "
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