JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Hundreds of Region 8 residents gathered Monday to promote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message of unity.
Arkansas State University teamed up with the Northeast Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee to host the 16th annual celebration of the civil rights leader's life.
Jonesboro resident Jamie Caradine said this is the first time he's been able to participate in a march.
"I came to Jonesboro in 1968 to attend Arkansas State University," said Caradine. "After graduating, I stayed up here and I worked. And now, I've made this my home and raised my family and everything. This is the first time I've been able to come out to a march. I feel honored and I feel blessed to be able to come out. To have my health and strength to be able to walk."
Caradine said he came out to walk for those who couldn't.
"I want to participate for all of those who are not able to come out today. And I also want to take part and be part of the Martin Luther King legacy," he said. "I just feel honored and blessed to be out here today. This is my first one and I really feel good about it."
The Reverend Ray Scales, chairperson of the committee, said it's about unifying the community.
"Our goal is to keep our community as one," Scales said. "We welcome everyone who can to come and participate.
Jonesboro resident Carolyn Lewis it's about equality for everyone.
"I'm just honored and blessed just like everyone else that's out here walking," Lewis said. "I'm here to continue to celebrate the legacy that Dr. Martin Luther King left. Not only for equality and justice for African-Americans but equality and justice for everyone. And so, to be able to be out here in the parade with everyone else, I feel totally blessed."
Caradine said the number of young people who participated in the parade gives him a sense of hope for the future.
"This is the first time I've ever witnessed the crowd," Caradine said. "I feel good about the young people that are out here participating. It really gives me hope that maybe things will start to get better, will continue to get better and hopefully as they get older they will continue carrying on the legacy."
The parade started at 10 Monday morning on Dean Street on the A-State campus. The marchers then traveled down Johnson Avenue to University Loop East where they headed toward the Fowler Center.
The annual Northeast Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Program followed the parade at Riceland Hall in the Fowler Center.
The Reverend Kurbe Newsom, pastor of St. Paul A.M.E. Church and president of the Craighead County NAACP Chapter, delivered the keynote address.