Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott leads Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade after initial cancellation

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott led off the triumphant Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade on Monday that he had promised city residents he would deliver. Drummers, dancers

and pompom-twirlers rounded the corner at Eutaw Street shortly after noon and proceeded south down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the street in honor of the slain civil rights

leader. “This is Baltimore,” the mayor said as he walked in front of the parade, stopping frequently to chat with adults and kids who lined the sidewalk and central median

of the mile-long route. “This parade is part of our city’s muscle memory. People come together and come out the way they always do.” Just 10 days ago, such an outcome

seemed unlikely after the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts announced that the parade was being canceled for the third year in a row. BOPA’s statement noted that the

holiday is an official day of service and encouraged residents to honor King’s memory instead by performing charitable work. The decision drew immediate and passionate

protests from local leaders ranging from church pastors to NAACP officers to U.S. Rep Kweisi Mfume, who described the cancellation as “disgraceful” and “disrespectful to entire

communities.” After BOPA issued a “clarifying statement” Jan. 6 saying that the decision had been made jointly with the mayor’s office, Scott responded by tweeting that his

staff members would put on the parade without BOPA’s help.