Dozens march in Huntington to honor King’s legacy

January 22, 2019

HUNTINGTON - Despite extremely cold temperatures Monday, dozens of people marched through the streets of Huntington, honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

“We need to be constantly reminded of the struggle that Dr. King got himself involved in to help people that did not have an advocate to protect their civil rights,” said Sylvia Ridgeway, president of the Huntington-Cabell branch of the NAACP. “When we bring the community together, then everybody wins.”

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration with a freedom march and program is sponsored by the Huntington-Cabell branch of the NAACP in conjunction with Marshall University’s Office of Intercultural Affairs, Ridgeway explained.

The temperature hovered around 12 degrees Monday afternoon, but it didn’t stop dozens of people from bundling up, and joining the annual march in downtown Huntington.

“It’s always important to reaffirm Dr. King’s legacy,” said Marshall University president Jerome Gilbert, who participated in the march.

“I think a march is a very visible sign that we still believe in the dream that he had filled with hope. Talking about that dream and celebrating his life and legacy continues to be a way to rekindle that hope that things can get better and people can come together to make a commitment to make things better for all of us.”

From young to old, people of all ages turned out to mark this holiday not as a day off from work, but a day to remember King.

“Civil rights was important back when Dr. King spoke of his dream of equality for all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin, and his powerful and inspiring words are just as important today,” said Jamila Jones, of Huntington.

Jones, who is 25 years old, said she hopes young people from her generation realize that in many ways, the country is still dealing with many of the same issues.

“It’s important that young people understand the impact Dr. King made and that many others are still fighting for the same things he was fighting for back then,” she said.

“Young people need to do more than just learn about Dr. King’s legacy and dream, but get involved in the fight for civil rights and equality for all.”

The march started at 16th Street Baptist Church.

It then traveled east on 9th Avenue, turned north on 19th Street, then turned west on 8th Avenue before turning north on Hal Greer Boulevard and going through the underpass before turning east on 5th Avenue and ending at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

Those who were unable to march rode a Tri-State Transit Authority bus to the performing arts center, where a celebration ceremony followed.

The ceremony featured a program of positive, inspirational messages and conversations, along with singing by the Spring Hill Elementary Choir.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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