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Marchers inspired by King's dream

MLK
Jan. 22, 2013 @ 06:50 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Community members turned out Monday to remember the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., many of whom marched with pride that a portion of that dream has been realized with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Derrick Kibble and Florida Powell celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights March with their daughters -- pulling the youngest, 3-year-old Kibble, in a red wagon. Powell said their family was inspired to participate this year in hopes of passing King's message to another generation.

"We want to teach our kids a better way," she said. "We don't talk about white people, black people. We don't do that. Everybody is together."

That dream of equality, unity and cooperation was mentioned by locals of all ages and government officials alike.

The march started at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and continued west to Calvary Baptist Church at 8th Avenue and 9th Street. It was there many marchers gathered to watch the inauguration.

Olivia Staples, 15, of Huntington, marched with Youth Council of the local NAACP. She watched Obama's first inauguration in Washington and commented on the significance of this year's coinciding with King's holiday.

"It's a double whammy," she said. "We celebrate (King's) life and legacy ... It just shows that anything is possible and for a person to shoot for the stars."

Jason Shepherd, 32, marched with Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity of Marshall University. He also spoke of heritage and unity, saying he wants to pass down that tradition to his children, ages 3 and 7 months.

"It's not about black or white out here," he said. "It's about celebrating Dr. King's dream of equality and freedom."

Teresa Stevens and Earl Jeter marched with an Obama sign, while Earskel Caul wore an Obama shirt. Each mentioned having witnessed the country's evolution of civil rights.

"This was his dream, that the black man would rise up above the water like the ships that rise above the tide," Stevens said. "He didn't get to see his dream, but we get to see his dream, and his dream was that black children would be president."

Caul, 59, of Huntington, found meaning Monday in the words freedom, peace and love as he prepared to represent Chapter 2 of Huntington's Disabled American Veterans.

"Fifty years ago, there was a lot of opportunities that were not available to the black man and woman," he said. "Now more doors are open, and we have a sense of love for everybody."

And that significance wasn't lost upon teenagers in attendance, such as Huntington High School's Derek Rankin, 15. He mentioned marching as a way to be productive and complement history lessons he is learning in class.

"We need to keep it alive," he said. "We've got to keep our heritage because if we don't look at it, then we're just going to end up where we were 50 years ago."

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams marched to participate with friends. He also hoped his involvement would be a message as to the level of importance he places upon remembering King's enduring dream.

"We have dreams, but we also have expectations and the expectations are that we walk arm in arm to move our city forward," he said.

Follow Curtis Johnson via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD and http://facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD.

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