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Covington holds third annual Black History Month parade
The third annual parade was held on Saturday, Feb. 27. - photo by Michael Bandoo

COVINGTON, Ga. – Each February, people from around the world form together to observe Black History Month. Newton County is no different.

Thousands of people from all walks of life banded together to celebrate the third annual Black History Month parade.

The parade began at Legion Field and marched to the downtown Square area where several groups of patrons congregated in celebration.

The event was organized by the Newton County Historical Committee on Black Heritage Preservation in conjunction with the city of Covington and Newton County.

As a precursor to the parade, patrons heard music from the Washington Street Community Center’s children’s choir as well as the MLK Community Choir.

Moments before the parade, Terri James took the stage to lead everyone into the event.

“Enjoy yourself. It’s a beautiful day, it’s a little chilly but we’re still gonna have a good time in Jesus’ name,” James said.

The parade then kicked off with grand marshal Evan Oglesby. Oglesby – a Toccoa native – was a former professional football player who played five years in the National Football League with the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.

Serving as honorary grand marshal was superintendent of Newton County School System (NCSS), Dr. Duke Bradley III.

Bradley shared that it was his first time participating in Newton County’s Black History Month’s proceedings, but said that the event summed up what Newton County is all about.

“It was a beautiful coming together of our community,” Bradley said. “I really didn’t know what to expect, but what stood out was that everybody in our community participated…This is a loving community and one that I am proud to be a part of.”

The parade contained representation from a number of different organizations, including the Central GA East Black Chamber, East Metro 4 Social Justice, United States Veterans, the Newton County NAACP, the east suburban Atlanta Chapter Jack and Jill of America, the Georgia Top 10 club and the Regular Grand Lodge of Georgia A.A.R.

Additionally, members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Omega Psi Phi fraternity were in attendance for the parade.

Providing representation from political offices and candidacies include: Alana Sanders, John Bryant, Willie Arthur Smith, Kimberly Griggs, Avis Williams, David Scott, Gabriel White, Brent Bennett, Tiijon DaCosta and Stephanie Finnie. 

A number of youth organizations were represented, too. Those include Clements Middle School, the Queen’s G.E.M.S. program, the Bomb Squad travel softball team and MBS karate, just to name a few.

Leading into the parade, the city of Covington held additional Black History Month events.

From Feb. 12-15, the city of Covington held a Black History Month art exhibit, with its “final night of art” taking place on Feb. 16. Following the final night of art, the city hosted its food truck Friday with a number of Black-owned businesses selling food and drinks. A movie night featuring the movie “Black Panther” was shown at Legion Field right after the food truck Friday.

Community development director for the city of Covington, Ken Malcom, said that all of these events, paired with the growing crowd year-by-year for the parade show that community engagement is important.

“The crowd is building from what we had last year and people gathered here to watch it and we want to continue to see that,” Malcom said.

Malcom said he hopes the event will be “bigger and better” next year and that his team will continue to work with the many partners involved with the event.

The city of Covington plans to continue to make the event bigger and better for next year.

“Thanks to the dedication of the organizers, the city of Covington continues to see growth and participation for this annual event,” per a statement from the city of Covington. “Our downtown looks forward to hosting the parade again next year.”