Hundreds brave cold for MLK parade despite controversy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Hundreds brave cold for MLK parade despite controversy

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the 44th straight year, Martin Luther King was honored with a parade through West Louisville Monday.

The event was bigger than ever despite the controversy that threatened to overshadow the message.

George Burney launched the Martin Luther King Day motorcade 44 years ago with just 10 cars. Now, more than 400 parade down West Broadway.

“They respond to it because they know that Dr. King lost his life asking us to be brothers and sisters together,” Burney told WDRB News.

Hundreds gathered in the sub-zero wind chill despite the white-hot controversy that threatened to divide the event in recent days.

“We don't have controversy on Martin Luther King Day,” said Shenita Rickman, who organized the kids portion of the parade.

Burney had chosen Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine to be a parade grand marshal. But activists threatened to shut down the event in protest because Wine is locked in a legal battle with Circuit Judge Olu Stevens over the racial makeup of juries.

Over the weekend, Wine decided to step aside, saying he did not want to be a distraction.

“And I agreed with him. We didn't want to separate the community. And that's what it's all about. This community is what it's all about,” said Burney.

A small band of protesters did picket the event.

But opinions were mixed among those taking part in the parade. Some were pleased that Wine dropped out.

“I think it would have been a uproar. I really think it would have been a really bad situation. And I thank God that it didn't really happen,” said community activist George Fields.

But more than a few, said Wine should be here.

“I think he should have stood up and been a man and stayed in, myself, to stand up for what he believes is right,” said Melvin Carr of VFW Post 45.

“He would have actually proved a point. A group of people having a difference of opinion is fine. We welcome that,” said Rickman.

But everyone agreed the controversy should not overshadow the event's message of unity and non-violence.

“Stop killing each other. You're killing your brothers and sisters, and Dr. King would not be happy with what we're doing to each other,” said Burney.

Burney invited Wine because he's a long-time supporter of Burney's organization, People’s Rights in Demanding Equality (P.R.I.D.E.).

But Burney also agrees with Stevens that juries must be more diverse.

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