December 22, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT community invited to march in King Day Parade
Phillip Pannell

Activist Phil Pannell has urged organizers of the city’s MLK Holiday parade to invite the LGBT community to join the festivities.

At the suggestion of gay and Ward 8 community activist Phil Pannell, organizers of D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday parade, set to take place Jan. 16, 2012, are inviting members of the LGBT community to take part in the event.

Lead organizer Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer, the city’s African-American community newspaper, said a parade organizing committee has been reaching out to all communities, including the LGBT community, in an effort to boost participation in the parade.

She noted that 2012 will mark the first time in seven years that the King parade will take place on the Martin Luther King Day holiday, which commemorates King’s birthday.

Organizers in 2005 changed the parade date to April, saying the weather would be better in the spring. But according to Barnes, community activists this year called for returning the parade to the King Day holiday, which takes place each year on the third Monday in January.

Pannell said he is encouraging LGBT organizations to march in contingents in the parade. He said he had hoped the city’s LGBT marching band, the Different Drummers, would participate. But Barnes told the Blade on Monday that a representative of the band said the band doesn’t perform in January and February.

The parade is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. on Jan. 16 at the intersection Milwaukee Pl., S.E. and Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. and continue north on Martin Luther King Ave. for about a mile and a half, Barnes said. It will end on the 4200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. at the site of Leckie Elementary School. Parade contingents and floats are scheduled to assemble at the starting point of the parade at 9:30 a.m.

A signup form for entering floats or contingents in the parade, along with more details of the event, are available at mlkholidayparadedc.org.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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