People gather for parades in South Florida to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Madeleine Wright - Reporter, Sanela Sabovic - Reporter

MIAMI - Thousands of people are spending the day off from school and work in Miami to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

People gathered for a parade in the streets of Miami's Liberty City neighborhood, along Northwest 54th Street. The parade included a high school chorus, motorcycles and police cruisers.

"My kids, they like the firetrucks, the police, so I’m bringing them out today. It's all for them," one woman, Stacy Wilson, said. 

This year, the holiday falls on what would have been King's 89th birthday.

"He was all about nonviolence. He was about equal rights and equality for all mankind, regardless of whatever race, creed or color," Barbara Whitfield said. 

Another woman, Mae Christian, had a personal connection to the slain civil rights leader.

She said she marched with King in Selma back in the 1960s during a darker time in American history.

"When you're living in a segregated lifestyle, you can't drink out the water fountain, you can't use the toilet, you had to go to colored schools. We were very disrespected," she said. 

Nowadays in this integrated society, things are much different.

The work of King and others led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin.

"We still have come a long way since then, and we still have a lot more to go, too. But things have gotten a lot better," Whitfield said. 

Another parade was held in Fort Lauderdale, along Sistrunk Boulevard. The parade made its way to Esplanade Park. 

"All colors matter: black, white, blue, purple -- we all matter," Oscar Collins said. 

Revelers gathered about 9 a.m. at Lincoln Park to watch the traditional holiday parade and unity march in Fort Lauderdale.

"This is a tradition for me and my children and grandchildren," Lyne Gaines said.  

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler kicked off the parade and was followed by community leaders and children from middle schools and high schools showcasing their talents and smooth moves.

The parade wound its way eastbound along Sistrunk Boulevard before wrapping up at Esplanade Park for a festival and award ceremony.

Monday is dedicated as a national day of service.

People are encouraged to volunteer to honor King's commitment to improving the lives of others.

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