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What does Martin Luther King Jr. Day mean to you?

‘He wanted us to be kind and love one another’

ROANOKE, Va. – Martin Luther King Jr. Day holds different meaning for different people.

“It’s just a celebration of who we all are as humans,” said Kiera Toney, who just moved to Roanoke from Martinsville. “It shouldn’t matter what your color or what your religion is, you’re a human being.”

“It’s about, you know, equality and making sure that everyone is treated the same,” said Adam Bowes, who lives in Salem with his wife and three daughters. They have another baby girl on the way.

Bowes is teaching his oldest daughters, 5-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old Juliet, about King’s message.

“It doesn’t matter what you look like. It really doesn’t. A person’s a person,” said Bowes.

His daughter, Sarah, said that everyone should treat each other “nicely and the same.”

After the killing of George Floyd in May 2020 reignited the Black Lives Matter movement, Toney says she feels the weight of this day even more.

“It’s 2021 at this point and I’d really hate to think that Dr. King’s legacy from the 60s and earlier haven’t changed anything,” said Toney.

Karl Kleinhenz, who lives in Roanoke, is taking time to reflect.

“Reflect on the injustices that have happened, the injustices that are still happening and try to find ways to correct that,” said Kleinhenz.

Newly-elected Roanoke City Council Member Robert Jeffrey Jr. said that it’s OK to pause and learn from King’s teachings.

“Martin Luther King really exemplified peace and service,” said Jeffrey Jr. “We need to take this moment to understand what has happened and try not to duplicate it again, as far as the civil unrest that’s going on in our country. Think about and reminisce and understand what we need to do to move forward.”

Decades later, people across the world are remembering the man who started a movement, that still lives on today.

In the words of 4-year-old Juliet Bowes: “He wanted us to be kind and love one another.”


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