Martin Luther King Jr. Day parades planned on St. Croix, St. Thomas

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Events to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are scheduled for Monday in both island districts.

The Central Labor Council's Civil Rights Committee will have its annual Martin Luther King Jr. March and Rally at 10 a.m. Monday in Frederiksted on St. Croix, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity is having its Martin Luther King Peace March at 2 p.m. Monday in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the holiday scheduled around the time of the civil rights leader's birthday to commemorate his life. King was born on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta. The holiday falls on the third Monday in January. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

The Central Labor Council's event, in its 21st year, has a theme of "One man with courage makes a majority," a quote from Andrew Jackson.

The parade used to be mid-island, but organizers moved it to Frederiksted in recent years.

"We're just trying the West Side of the island for the last two years and it's better every year," said Antoinette Rampersad, the chairwoman of the council's Civil Rights Committee.

Schoolchildren, civic organizations, unions and neighborhood groups are expected to participate in the parade, which runs from Claude O. Markoe Elementary School in Frederiksted to Buddhoe Park, where a rally will take place.

"One of our dreams is to get all the nationalities living in the Virgin Islands to come and just participate," Rampersad said.

She said that anyone can march in the parade. Lineup is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., with the march scheduled to take off an hour later.

The Rev. Reginald Perry from Victorious Believers is the keynote speaker for the rally afterward in Buddhoe Park, she said. In addition, the African Association will be doing a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

On St. Thomas, the Theta Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., is inviting the community to its Martin Luther King Jr. Peace March, which is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at Rothschild Francis Square.

The Peace March will make its way down Main Street to Emancipation Garden, where a ceremony is planned, according to Eric Baynes, the area director for the fraternity.

Baynes said there were a variety of reasons for the march.

"One, it is a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King. Second, he was a fraternity brother of ours," Baynes said. "Thirdly, with all the violence going on in the community, we want to let people know there are a lot of individuals wishing for peace, who want to see positive things, positive change in our environment and our neighborhood."

Everyone, he said, is invited to the event.

Planned participants in the Peace March include civic organizations, marching bands from St. Thomas' two public high schools, their ROTCs, various Greek letter organizations, the Boy Scouts and the Civil Air Patrol, Baynes said.

A short ceremony at Emancipation Garden will complete the peace march.

Moleto Smith Jr. will be the main speaker at that ceremony. Smith said he intends to speak about King's legacy and its implications in the Virgin Islands today.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email

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