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Spectators Celebrate King's Legacy At Joyful Liberty City Parade

Jessica Bakeman
A high school marching band plays at the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Liberty City.

Six-year-old Lauren Nelzi knew why she came with her mom, aunt and cousin to a parade in Liberty City on Monday.

“We’re celebrating Martin Luther King,” she said. “He made our world better.”

It was a hectic but joyful scene at the event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thousands of people lined the streets to enjoy the sunny, breezy afternoon.

Kids ate lollipops and admired floats while their parents danced to the music of high school marching bands and cheered on dance troupes. Vendors sold conch salad served in hollowed-out pineapples and T-shirts with King’s face on them.

The parade route ended at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, where eight people were injured in a shooting after last year’s event. Organizers worried people might stay away this year for fear of more violence.

But some of the people who came out on Monday said they felt safe because of the palpable police presence there.

Parade-goer Rhondo Robinson said last year’s events dishonored King’s memory. But he clings to the reverend's teachings, which give him hope for a more peaceful future.

“If we keep on loving, they’ll soon put the guns down,” he said.

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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