Actress Jo Marie Payton serves as Miami’s MLK Day Parade grand marshal

MIAMI – Jo Marie Payton was a student at Carol City Senior High School in Miami-Dade County when she learned of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

The actress and singer, who is best known for her roles as Harriette Baines Winslow on “Perfect Strangers” and “Family Matters,” still remembers the pain of the tragic day, so seeing his legacy live on makes her proud.

“I’m so excited that we’re still celebrating something that’s so important: Peace, equality, fairness,” Payton said.

Payton said she was thrilled to serve as Miami’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade’s grand marshal for the second time on Monday in Liberty City. The first time was about 25 years ago, she said.

Payton was born to Driscoll Payton, a construction worker, and Frankie Bell Payton, a maid, in Albany, Georgia on Aug. 3, 1950, as the family’s second of nine children, and moved to Opa-locka when she was just three months old

After graduating from Carol City Senior High School, she attended Albany State University and joined the national touring company of the musical “Purlie” before becoming one of television’s favorite mothers and the sassy Suga Mama of Disney’s animate series “The Proud Family.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recognized her activism by nominating her four times for the Image Award.

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