JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of people gathered Monday in downtown Jacksonville for the 41st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade.
The event celebrated King’s life and message of equality, opportunity and service to others.
This year’s 1.5-mile parade route started on Waters Street at Federal Reserve Building, proceeded to Laura and then Adams streets and concluded at the intersection of Lee and Bay streets.
The parade, which began at 11 a.m., featured floats, local marching bands, dance troupes and decorated vehicles representing businesses and organizations exhibiting a theme related to King’s message.
It was a chance for people of all ages and all backgrounds to walk together, show off their skills and honor King’s legacy.
“I was proud of him because he made the world a better place,” said fourth grade student Janaia Stroughter.
For many people lining the streets, the mood was a true celebration.
Marilyn Polite remembers when integration was just starting and says this is a sign of how far things have come.
“I see this as a good thing. This is great. To see the different races coming out to participate in the parade, as well, I see that as a good thing. Once upon a time, we weren’t able to do it,” said Polite.
Gale Williams founded the group Southern Women Against Gun Violence after her brother was killed years ago. She says her call to action is in the spirit of King.
“He was a modern-day Moses in his time. We’re just here to promote, love, unity in Jacksonville, Florida, exactly where it belongs because we have to start here to make a difference anywhere,” Williams said.
It was also a chance for parents to teach the younger generations.
“I teach my children the importance of remembering our history and where we came from. It’s important for them to know about that period,” said Schliter Sampilo, who attended the parade.
The parade was sponsored by The Law Offices of Ron Sholes and hosted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation Inc.