Fraternity brings first Martin Luther King Jr. Parade to Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  What is a January tradition in many cities nationwide took over Huntsville's downtown streets Saturday.

"It's good to see the community out. I know this is first one, there's going to be many more to come," said Alonzo Dukes, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.

Local members of the historically black fraternity -- of which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a member -- put together the celebration. The 50 participating organizations made this inaugural parade larger than anyone imagined.

"I expected 20 people," joked Jared Tarver, another Alpha man who was central in the parade's execution. "Once word got out that there's a Huntsville Martin Luther King parade, we got emails and calls, rapidly, in the last two weeks."

Tarver is a member of the Delta Theta Lambda Chapter, and he says the nature of race relations in the country today makes Dr. King's message as crucial today as it was in the 1960s.

"With Ferguson and everything else going on, we wanted a time to bring everyone together," Tarver said. "Even the police department helping us out, HPD, they're excited as well."

"I'm just glad the community is willing to support a man that had a great vision and to honor him," said Dukes.

The Alpha men hope to bring in organizations across state lines to make the parade a yearly -- and ever-growing -- celebration of Dr. King's dream.

"It's kind of surreal to see the parade come together for Martin Luther King because he wanted everyone to live with equality," said Tarver.

The Alphas of north Alabama are also the hosts of the 30th MLK Unity Breakfast taking place on the morning of the holiday with approximately 1300 tickets sold.