“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward,” are just a few of the many inspirational quotes originating from Martin Luther King Jr.
Ask any American who he was, and they can all say at least one good thing about him. On the third Monday of every January, MLK Day is celebrated nationwide. Here in Ocala, on the morning of January 19, the annual MLK parade was held downtown and marchers from all around the county gathered to celebrate unity, equality and brotherly love.
The participants ranged from young children to senior citizens and all religions, races and ethnicities gathered to march and commemorate King, traveling west from the downtown square going towards the Martin Luther King Jr. Complex. There were also events in the park following the parade including food and community vendors, gospel music and activities for the whole family.
“Martin Luther King Day to me reflects on where we’ve come from and where we are now in relation to the harmony we hope to achieve and maintain in society today,” said Johnnie Robinson, Ocala Police Department Sergeant.
Among the marchers was Dave Alexander, a “veteran marcher” who has attended the event for the past six years. He was one of the very many who felt being present at the event was a positive action and a big step towards unity and harmony.
“This is a great thing to happen,” said Alexander. “Contributing to this movement represents how far we’ve come.”
Local schools were in attendance at the event, such as Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist School and the College of Central Florida. Preacher Scott Clark from Cross Pointe Church led CF’s International Students in bringing about awareness of International events such as and Martin Luther King Day.
CF student Shiori Goto said, “I didn’t know who Martin Luther King was, but now I am coming to be aware of what he did and this is a good event.”
Clark has been doing the MLK Parade for the past four years, and this was the second year he integrated International Students into the march.
“I just want to teach them about the Civil Rights Movement and expose them to the diversity they might not encounter back in their home country,” Clark said. “It’s a really great way to get them culturally aware.”
The morals and inherent value of King were resonating through the city streets on that morning. As the drumlines’ strong sounds vibrated through the souls of the marchers, so did the excitement and love.
“God has the same values for everybody,” said Janica Beard, a member of the Clearwater Missionary Baptist Church from Ocklawaha. “His son died for a cause for the people, and the least we can do is demonstrate those values that we still have today.
Story by: Raina Barnett