Jonesboro celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -In Jonesboro, the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's birthday lasts until January 23.

Monday morning the celebration began with the annual parade however it was a bit different this year.

As with any parade you can feel the excitement as the participants begin to line up. The new route began this year at the Christ Way United Methodist Church off Stadium.

Chelsea Coleman was getting ready to march with her sorority sisters from Alpha Kappa Alpha. Chelsea says it's important to remember Dr. King.

Coleman, "He was the major person that started the movement. He had a dream and it's important to celebrate those people who had those dreams and continue to push those dreams forward."

Looking around at all the young people lining up to march I asked Chelsea who had just graduated from ASU as an Registered Nurse, if she thought that kids really understand Dr. King's message.

Coleman, "I actually think they do because it's something they always stress in school from grade school all the way up to high school and college and that's why we're here now. I really do think people do understand in our generation."

Around 10 the parade rolled off, marching for the first time North on Stadium up over the Martin Luther King overpass. Marcher Norma Ferrell carried a picture of herself taken at the new King Memorial in Washington. She remembers the marches in the 60's.

Ferrell, "Progress is being made. Still a lot more to do but we've come a long ways. A long ways to come but I feel people moving forward. Oh Yeah, keep his memory alive. What he stood for keep people thinking about it, keep growing and going forward."

Along with marchers, elected officials and others this year, there were 2 bands and Jr. ROTC units. Not a long parade but one loaded with enthusiasm.

The celebration continued during the Community program held at the Reng Center on the ASU campus. In honor of Dr. King's new statue in Washington D.C. the program was called, "A Monument of Service."

Dr. Ray Scales was honored by the community for organizing the parade for the past 10 years. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin read from a city proclamation.

"Certain individuals who have left a mark on our city by the lasting impact they have made for the past and for the future."

It was a celebration through music, dance and word.

Quoting one of Dr. Kings college professors. Keynote speaker, State Senator Linda Chesterfield told how Dr. King became inspired.

Chesterfield, "It is the fight. It is the aim that will eventually lead to success. If you never try, you will never know if you succeed or not."

There are other events scheduled.

On Tuesday at Eleven there will be the Celebrating the Dream presentation at the ASU Student Union first floor.

On Wednesday at 5 there will be a candlelight vigil at Heritage Plaza with a reception to follow in the Multicultural Center.

On Thursday the 19th it's performing arts night. Celebrating MLK through the Arts. That will be held at 7 P.M. at Centennial Hall on the ASU Campus.

And wrapping up the MLK celebration on Monday the 23rd, Danny Van Leer will perform in the play, Honoring the dream at 6 PM at the Fowler Center.