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'We're still marching to keep a dream alive'

Community honors Martin Luther King Jr.

POSTED: January 19, 2009 3:03 p.m.

Honoring King in Gainesville

Newtown Florist Club's 39th Annual March for Peace, Unity and Justice honored Martin Luther King Jr. this afternoon.

SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Gainesville native Kenneth Robinson, 66, takes pictures of people as they march by his home Monday on Prior Street. Robinson didn't walk in the Newtown Florist Club's annual Martin Luther King Jr. march because of a bad leg.

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To many, Monday was much more than a day off.

Members of the community came out with their walking shoes on Monday afternoon to join the Newtown Florist Club’s 39th annual March for Peace, Unity and Justice to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

"It’s something that helps you remember this glorious day," said Julian Woodford, 15, who marched for the first time with his grandfather. "He fought for us. I want to remember."

The group met at the SunTrust Bank at the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and Washington Street and began the march with songs and words of prayer and encouragement.

Armed with banners and signs, the group marched more than two miles through town to the Butler Community Center.

The crowd of more than 100 people was made up of those old enough to remember King’s speeches and those too young to walk on their own.

"This generational passing of the baton is what’s represented," said Rose Johnson-Mackey, one of the march’s organizers. "We have all these young people who weren’t alive during the civil rights movement. They’re still here."

Many at the event said celebrating King on the eve of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration was meaningful.

"I’m walking for the cause, to prepare myself for tomorrow," said Laverne Moore. "We’re finally seeing a point where our walking’s paying off."

Tara Bordes, who attended the march for the first time since 1998, said Martin Luther King Jr. Day was especially important to her this year.

"A lot of things Martin Luther King would talk about are things Barack talks about," Bordes said.

Others, like Bobby Langston, have attended the march for years and feel it’s important to distinguish King’s day from inauguration day.

"This is Martin Luther King Day. Barack Obama is tomorrow," Langston said.

Johnson-Mackey said she was happy to see so many people come out to the march to celebrate what has been achieved in the years since King died.

"We understand the depth of the moment," said Johnson-Mackey. "We’re still marching to keep a dream alive."



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