Hundreds of marchers took to the streets of Little Rock Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march-parade, an annual event that pays tribute to the slain civil rights icon.
Dozens of groups, ranging from high school bands to politicians seeking office to local businesses and churches, joined in the "Marade" that started at 33rd and Chester streets and was set to end at the state Capitol.
Some marchers clutched posters of King's face or a famous quote. One children's group sang "We Shall Overcome" as they walked past crowds gathered on the sidewalk. A sports car in the parade blasted a recording of one of King's speeches over its loudspeaker.
Diane Charles, coordinator for the Marade, said this marks the 31st year for the popular event.
"This parade is a people's celebration," she said. "Dr. King was such — he is an icon. He did so much for our country. No matter what the race, no matter what culture, no matter what religion, Dr. King spoke for the people. And he lost his life working and fighting, being an activist for the less fortunate. Those of us who lived through that time ... we feel as though we owe a debt to the ultimate sacrifice he made."
Among those marching was Earnest Franklin, president of Say's Stop The Violence. The group marched holding crosses representing local homicide victims, a way to promote its anti-violence message.
"That was a man that stood up," he said of King. "It is time for us to be as black people today to come out, to stand up, to vote, to do the things that's right, to be humble but be non-violent. But let the people know, let the world know that god lives in us."
Little Rock Superintendent Dexter Suggs served as the Marade's grand marshal, riding in a car at the front of the procession and saying just beforehand that he was proud to support King's legacy.
"It's important that we never forget what Dr. King and many others did for this nation as a whole regardless if you're black, white or hispanic," he said. "For a person to have that tenacity and integrity, that's something we all can live by."