DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Missing from the 29th annual Elite News MLK Parade in Dallas on Monday morning was its founder. Bill Blair Jr. died in April at the age of 92.
On Sunday, while making final preparations for the parades, family members and volunteers vowed to continue Blair’s legacy. “It’s real different this year without him,” stated longtime parade volunteer B.J. Fullylove. “He is on our minds and in our hearts.”
Blair played baseball in the Negro League and founded the DFW Elite News newspaper, but perhaps is best known for advocating for “the people’s parade.”
Blair always thought the City of Dallas’ MLK march should be held on Monday — not Saturday. When the city wouldn’t budge, he started his own event with the idea of letting everyone participate.
“His signature is on everything,” said his son, Darrly Blair, who recalls the first year when the parade featured 11 cars, a man with a bullhorn and another man playing drums. Blair’s son has now taken over the family tradition of organizing the parade, which this year features nearly 300 entries.
Darrly Blair said that his father “wanted regular ordinary people to be able to celebrate their legacy, their life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Blair’s legacy has grown, 29 years later, into one the largest MLK parades in the country. Parade organizers said that as many as 300,000 people have attended the annual event.
“We have to remember that Dr. King’s dream was all about the young people. It wasn’t just the current reality that they lived in the ’50s and ’60s, but it was also about trying to make a difference for future generations,” said Pastor Van Carl Williams with Cedar Crest Cathedral.