National Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Battle of the

King (Martin Luther, Jr.) Drum Major for Justice Parade, Battle of the Bands & Drum Line Extravaganza, National

Monday in mid-January
The National Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Parade, Battle of the Bands & Drum Line Extravaganza is a celebration held annually in St. Petersburg, Fla., on the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. The event is organized by the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday & Legacy Association Inc. and led by Sevell Carescale Brown III, whose original idea gave rise to the celebration. Through a grand pageant showcasing the talents of black college students, Brown sought to honor Dr. King's legacy as a "drum major for justice" while encouraging young people to aspire to higher education. The first parade was held on January 20, 1986, the year that Dr. King's birthday was first commemorated as a federal holiday.
To participate in the parade and competition, marching bands travel from historically black colleges and universities throughout the South, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Among the participants are Bethune Cookman University, Florida A & M University, Morehouse College, and the 300-member Historically Black Colleges & Universities All-Star Band, with members drawn from several schools. The parade, which begins at the intersection of Third Avenue South and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, travels 1.3 miles to South Vinoy Park and is attended by approximately 100,000 spectators. Following the parade, a high-energy band competition gets underway at Tropicana Field Dome Stadium. Scholarships are available to participating band members, and an awards banquet is held on the Friday preceding the parade.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday & Legacy Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 12732
St. Petersburg, FL 33733
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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