Let freedom ring: honoring MLK’s legacy - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Let freedom ring: honoring MLK’s legacy

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(WTVM) -

People across the nation and here at home heeded Martin Luther King's cry fifty years ago to "let freedom ring."

Thousands gathered in the nation's capital today to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and King's "I have a dream" speech.

People celebrated locally as well.

Today the Columbus Mayor's Commission on Unity, Diversity and Prosperity joined the King Center and 50th Anniversary Coalition to ring bells reflecting the legacy of Dr. King.

A busload of people from Columbus travelled to Washington this weekend to be a part of this commemoration, including News Leader 9's Barbara Gauthier.  

It was definitely an emotional trip. About 60 people from across the valley traveled to the nation's capitol this weekend to remember Dr. King's dream. 

They ranged in age from 12 to 84. None of them were there for King's original speech in 1963, but many wanted to be there for this anniversary to reflect on King's dream and find ways to make today's world better.

Fifty years ago, folks from all over the country converged on Washington on that historic day when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told the world about his dream.

But in that very same spot this weekend many proclaimed that dream is still not reality.

"Everything has changed and nothing has changed, that's where we are today," said Joseph Lowery.

"Martin Luther King was a great man," said 17-year-old PJ Rodgers. "I've never even been to Washington DC so it's a great honor for me."

Rodgers was part of a group from Phenix City's TEARS program who took the bus ride from Columbus to Washington. TEARS provides support services for 'at risk" youth in the valley. Leaders hoped the trip would help inspire these young people to make the right choices in life.

"We have to get our generation straight, because little kids are shooting each other, everybody is getting in jail, people can't get jobs," said 18-year-old Howa Conneh.

"What I'm hoping is a call in action that we work together, people of all races to see how we can make things better not for us but for our children because they are dying at the hands of police they're dying at the hands of each other," said TEARS founder Anglia Walton.

As participants marched from the National Mall to the new King Memorial, many spoke of the need for African Americans to first look within to help solve many of the problems plaguing the black community.

Others pointed to recent events like the death of Trayvon Martin as evidence that the pursuit of King's dream is far from over.

Fifty years ago, Dr. King's dream was about freedom, racial equality and jobs. Today, activists wage a different war about stand your ground, voting rights and stop and frisk.

"I am energized and I'm ready to go back and start voter registration and help do what we can do to amend the stand your ground law," said Rev. Rufus Wood.

And as our group loaded the bus and headed back home, most felt renewed and energized, determined to make this – as one leader put it – not just a commemoration but continuation of King's dream.

"I'm going to fight for every child to be given an equal right an equal right at life," said Marquese Averett, organizer of the Young Minority Leaders.

"It makes me feel like I want to do my part get ahead in the world help everybody out," said Rodgers. "I'm gonna try my best."

SEE RELATED: WTVM visited DC for 50th Anniversary of March on Washington

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