0119MARCHaudHear Bishop Ernest Burns of Shady Grove Baptist Church speak before the annual peace march.
CORNELIA — More than 100 people walked along downtown streets Sunday as part of an annual peace march in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
"We’ve never marched this way before because today we are marching to the reality of what King talked about," said Bishop Ernest Burns of Shady Grove Baptist Church to the crowd before departing Sunday from the Big Red Apple, an iconic symbol in downtown Cornelia.
"We’re living the dream instead of just walking it," he said to hand claps of march participants.
Tuesday marks the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.
The group carried a portrait of King and a banner reading "World Peace" as they walked against a harsh wind.
Burns stopped the crowd just as they passed Rosa Parks Street on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and instructed them to lock arms and sing "We Shall Overcome" on the final short, hilly block to the church.
The group continued singing while filing into the church for a program that featured speakers and presentations with a civil rights theme, including a reading of King’s famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
"We still have some things to be done in our communities together," Burns told the audience. "... It’s not enough for us to march together. When injustice and things in our neighborhood don’t work right, we’ve got to stand together.
"It can’t be a black thing or a white thing. It’s no longer Republicans or Democrats. If they’ve got policy that works, we use it. If they don’t, we throw it out. It’s time for us to start working together."
State Rep. Rick Austin, R-Demorest, told the crowd that politics aside, "We’ve got a monumental inauguration coming up and an amazing time period in our nation’s history."
"What I want to remind you of today is ... this is a peace march and God’s word says the peace that passes all understanding comes from the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This peace march is about building bridges among people so that ultimately we can introduce them to Jesus Christ."
Burns also spoke in spiritual terms to the group before the march began. He likened the peace banner to the Ark of the Covenant that was carried in front of the Israelites when Joshua was at the Jordan River.
"The word of God goes before anything that takes place in politics or anything else," he said.
"With the inauguration or any president, we know that if God’s word or hand is not on it, it’s going to fall to the ground."