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York MLK parade 1 p.m. Saturday, WNBA all-star Latta is grand marshal

WNBA player and author Ivory Latta of York in a 2014 action shot in the WNBA. Latta will be grand marshal of the York MLK Parade Saturday.
WNBA player and author Ivory Latta of York in a 2014 action shot in the WNBA. Latta will be grand marshal of the York MLK Parade Saturday. File, AP

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade in downtown York set for Saturday is South Carolina’s oldest annual parade honoring the legendary late civil rights hero.

But this year, York turns toward the basketball court to honor another who showed greatness and inspired others. Hometown star and author Ivory Latta, an all-star in the WNBA after a career at York Comprehensive High School and at the University of North Carolina, is the grand marshal of the parade.

“To have Ivory Latta as part of this celebration is a huge deal for not just York, but our state,” said Steve Love, York city councilman and chairman of the western York County branch of the NAACP. “She is a hero in York.”

Latta, 32, is the all-time leading scorer in South Carolina high school basketball – boys or girls – who once scored an incredible 70 points in a single game. She went on to a stellar career at UNC, then played professionally in the WNBA and overseas in Israel.

“To be part of such a great event and parade in my hometown – it is a blessing,” Latta said. “I’m just a country girl from little McConnells.”

Latta grew up in McConnells a few miles outside York. Her book, “Despite the Height,” chronicles her journey through basketball as one of the shortest, if not the shortest, players on the court most of her career. The book can be found online at ivorylatta.com.

“I have always tried to inspire everyone to be their best no matter what size they are,” Latta, who’s listed as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, said.

The parade is at 1 p.m. Saturday on Congress Street in downtown York.

The parade, sponsored by the NAACP, has run yearly since 1981. It features several area bands including York, Clover and York Preparatory high schools, and other bands from around South Carolina and North Carolina. This the parade will give a special tribute to Jefferson High School with a float and entry. Jefferson was York’s high school for blacks before integration.

The parade stresses unity and community and is held to show the spirit of togetherness in York and York County, organizers said.

Groups can enter the parade up through Saturday morning. Cost is $50. For information email organizer Freddie Campbell at nflproductions@hotmail.com or call 704-813-6617.

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