Hundreds in the Roanoke Valley honor Martin Luther King Jr.

‘We have to stay strong and love each other’

ROANOKE, Va. – Shoulder to shoulder, hundreds of people in Roanoke honored Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, by marching for equality, justice and peace.

The 25th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Day was organized by the Roanoke chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization founded by King Jr. himself.

“It’s all about Dr. King and about the life that he lived and the things that he taught and it’s up to us to make sure that it stays alive," said Bishop Mitchell, the vice president of the SCLC in Roanoke.

Youth Day celebrates the icon and teaches the next generation about his life and legacy.

“The legacy we won’t let die. So we got to train our young people, that they pick up where we leave off," Mitchell said.

After the march, they recognized the achievements of local students.

Across the valley, Kelly Kuykendall honored King Jr.’s service to the community by serving hers. She volunteered at the Rescue Mission for its annual MLK Jr. Day of Service.

“I think everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and kindness and respect. It’s not just serving a meal, it’s having a conversation with someone who might need a little extra,” Kuykendall said.

Around 160 volunteers spent the day helping out the Rescue Mission by cleaning, sorting donations and handing out food. The Mission’s volunteer manager, Karl Stewart, said it’s great having so many volunteers because typically, they only have around 50 each day.

“A lot of people think of what [Dr. King] ministered to us as a nation about people coming together," Stewart said. "It’s more than just ethnicity, it is literally about, again, people who are in need of someone to reach out a hand and care and those people who have a desire to care.”

Gloria Randolph-King, the first vice president of the Roanoke branch of the NAACP, said everyone is coming together to share in one man’s message.

“We have to stay strong and love each other,” Randolph-King said.

And they are determined for that message -- and dream -- to live on.

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