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Black History Month parade spectators disappointed with low turnout

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
Feb. 11, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2012 at 8:12 p.m.

Jazmine Fields, left, Manuel Camacho, center, and Xavien Fields, right, lead the way for the Los Classicos Car Club of Victoria in the Black History Month Parade Saturday.

Jazmine Fields, left, Manuel Camacho, center, and Xavien Fields, right, lead the way for the Los Classicos Car Club of Victoria in the Black History Month Parade Saturday.

Lilly Cherry made sure she attended the Black History Month parade. She's missed the past two years because of work.

The 47-year-old Victoria native also brought her granddaughter to learn more about their heritage.

The day care director, however, was disappointed with the modest attendance.

"I saw the advertisements, but where is everybody?" she said.

Although the sun dominated the sky, the whipping wind prevailed. Lilianna Cherry began to shiver.

Her grandmother warmed her up with hugs and kisses across the street from the Patti Welder Magnet Middle School.

The 3-year-old was fascinated by four-legged animals galloping down North Street.

"Ooh, look there's another horsey," Lilianna said as her small hands tugged on her grandma's jacket.

Other members of the Cherry family felt the festivities were too important to miss.

"We need to see what our forefathers did for this country," said Lilly Cherry's mother, Shirley Cherry.

There were close to 40 floats that acknowledged schools, churches and political candidates that paraded one mile from the middle school to the Victoria Community Center.

Some of the participants used their vehicle to acknowledge notable African Americans. This year's theme was "Black Women in American History and Culture".

One float was dedicated to Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat for a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. Her act of civil disobedience triggered the Montgomery Bus boycott. Considered the mother of the modern civil rights movement, Parks was arrested for her refusal to give up her seat.

Texas's own, former U.S. Representative Barbara Jordan, was recognized as well.

She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate in almost 100 years and was the first African-American woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.

Although the parade was informative, there was still a missing element for Shirley Cherry.

"We need bands," she said. The 65-year-old retired cook would have liked to see more entertainment.

Members of the Victoria Black History Steering Committee said it's been almost a decade since school bands were in the Victoria parade.

"We should have more, we just didn't," said Earnel Lee Hill, a committee member.

The 71-year-old Victoria resident said he works at Hopkins Elementary School and Victoria West High School as head watchdog.

Hill, who's been a part of the committee for 17 years, said Mother Nature could also be a contributing factor to the smaller attendance this year.

"Some people didn't show up because they thought it was going to rain," he said. "I prayed for good weather."

Hill pleaded for more people to return to next year's parade.

"Let people know out there that we miss them," he said.

Although some historic figures were recognized during the parade, some younger individuals were later celebrated at the community center for their achievements.

Some members of the Refugio High School football were honored for winning a state championship.

Throughout the afternoon, a couple hundred Crossroads residents embraced and exchanged pleasantries. People of all races attended.

"We're all brothers and sisters. Color ain't nothing," said Jesse Castillo, who is Hispanic.

The 20-year-old mechanic showed off his 1982 Cadillac low-rider with hydraulics in the parade.

He said people would have fun if they came to the black history festivities.

Jaclyn Bearden, who is white, attended the black history events for the first time. Her daughter, Taylor Bearden, is Little Miss Victoria.

Bearden said Taylor teaches her about black history.

"She's schooled me," Jaclyn Bearden said about her 7-year-old Chandler Elementary School student.

Shirley Cherry said she's glad to see more diversity, but would like to see a larger turnout for African American events in the community.

"It's good for all to know what we've done and where we come from," she said.

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