It has been 51 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in Memphis during the height of the civil rights movement he helped inspire. For the past 41 years, Tulsa’s MLK Jr. Commemoration Society has honored and preserved King’s works and principles through an annual parade, scholarships and youth programs.
Pleas Thompson, the Society’s president, is a veteran of the Vietnam War, a Tulsa business owner and a community activist who serves as a local and state officer of the NAACP.
Who started the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Society?
The society was started 41 years ago by Dr. A. D. Phillips, Father Don Dallman, the Rev. Jim Rowe and Bishop Thomas Smith Jr. The purpose of the organization is to keep the ideals, dreams and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive.
Is it true Tulsa’s annual MLK Jr. Day parade is one of the larger MLK Day parades in the country?
We are the third-largest parade following Houston and Dallas. It’s time for people to join together in unity.
The Society facilitates several programs and contests through local schools. It seems there are a lot of moving parts. How many people work behind the scenes for these activities to occur? We have hundreds of people who volunteer to help our 21-person board of directors make the events possible.
What does MLK Jr. Day mean to you?
I am proud of the fact MLK Jr. had a holiday named in his honor. He was youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The MLK Parade and the Veterans Day parade are the only parades for which the City waives the fees. That speaks volumes to show what kind of city we live in.