JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Jacksonville on Monday to honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The slain civil rights leader would have been 87 years old last Friday. Monday marks the 30th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.
The 36th annual MLK Holiday Grand Parade and Celebration kicked off around 10 a.m. at EverBank Field. The parade route ended at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
One of those in the parade crowd was Ron Davis, father of slain teenager Jordan Davis, who was shot and killed at a Southside gas station in 2012 after a dispute over loud music.
Davis said a lot has been done to pursue King's dream.
"It's good to see the love," he said. "The only thing that's going to conquer hate is love."
Davis said people need to love and understand other races and religions and not be fearful. He believes fear is what led to the death of his son.
"Because every time there's a shooting, somebody says they fear another person. They say, 'Hey, the reason why I shot them is because I feared for my life,'" Davis said. "Before my son was killed, I had these notions in my head and I didn't put it into action. I didn't put my boots on the ground. I didn't put my feet on the ground and a lot of us, we have the same love in our heart, but we don't do them because it doesn't affect our family.
"What we have to stop doing is waiting until it affects our family. We have to go out here and act like we all are family. That when one person dies, everyone should feel the heartbreak of their family."
He said he wants to continue King's work by speaking to others, including lawmakers, about the importance of equality. He also plans to speak at a forum in New York and to students at FAMU, Edward Waters College, Florida Memorial University and Bethune-Cookman.
"Your religion is not going to matter," Davis said. "What's going to matter is the love you have in your heart for your fellow human beings."
Many agreed that the event was about much more than having fun with their families.
"The parade is great and everything, but it's all about equality," Johnny Hunt said. "That's what he fought for and that's what we're recognizing for what he did. Not just for African-Americans but for all people."
"It's an important day for my family because we celebrate black history and we're proud that Martin Luther King celebrated freedom for everybody," Yancie Bailey said.
One woman said it's important to teach children about King's legacy.
"These days and times it seems like it's taken away and it's not dwelled on as much, so we as parents, it's important that we get out and let them know what it's all about," Romonica Mitchell said.