To commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, local residents gathered at Vernon Damer Park in Hattiesburg to begin a peaceful march through the avenues. The march was scheduled to begin at the park, make its way through several blocks of the community, and conclude at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
The marching community leaders, parents, and children wanted to make a statement to the community: stop violence and unite as one.
“One of the things that's attributed to Martin Luther King and all the people that came through the civil rights era and because of the work that they did, we now stand on their backs,” said Roderick Woullard, supervisor of District 4. “We should come out and commemorate what our ancestors did. We should appreciate it and we should pass the legacy on down to our kids that they should never forget.”
The large crowd marched for blocks, holding signs, singing songs and stopping at two key locations before reaching their destination at Mt Zion Church. The group made a pause at Rowan Elementary school and the middle of Dabbs Street to pray for the peace and safety of the neighborhood.
“What we're really trying to do is to get people to understand the importance of non violence,” said Mark Jordan, of the Hattiesburg Black Heritage Coalition. “And what a way to celebrate Martin Luther King and honor him and getting ourselves to the point where we realize black on black crime is not the way that violence toward one another-toward anybody. At the end of the day, all lives matter.”