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Port Lavaca celebrates civil rights leader with parade (Video)

Jan. 19, 2013 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 19, 2013 at 7:20 p.m.

Xavier Smith, 8, left, and Zykeeth Williams, 10, hold up a sign that reads "We are all a better people because of Dr. Martin Luther King" as the walk in a Martin Luther King Jr. March in Port Lavaca on Saturday. Xavier and Zykeeth wore the sign for most of the march to honor King who they said is an inspiration to them.

PORT LAVACA - Chanting a song about Martin Luther King Jr. and holding a sign, Zykeeth Williams, 10, was in full support of King on Saturday morning.

Though the fourth-grader was not alive during King's time, he said what King stood for was alive and well with him.

"I'm influenced by him," he said. "He makes me want to be like him. I asked my dad about him when I got home, and he said he would have never met my mom if it weren't for him."

For Zykeeth and others, attending the MLK Jr. parade, which was in its seventh year, was important because King marched in peace more than 50 years ago.

Years ago, Port Lavaca resident D.J. Williams, 83, said he visited the MLK memorial in Atlanta. He said he was happy how his life has progressed since the days he was growing up.

"Everything in Port Lavaca, you can be part of and that's what Dr. King wanted," said Williams who lived most of his life in the area. "You get just as much opportunity as everyone else."

During his upbringing, Alvin Bland remembered his parents telling him where he could and couldn't go. While unhappy about the restrictions, Brand said he was thankful he avoided conflict with those who discriminated against blacks.

"Nobody didn't like it, but you had nobody on your side," he said, walking along Broadway during the march. "That was the norm."

In a coastal town with about 12,200 people, less than 4 percent are African-American, according to the latest U.S. Census statistics.

Another person marching was Elijah Harvey, 11. His parents said it was important that he march because life was not as easy as he views it today.

"They told me it was bad," he said. "I didn't even know."

People who came Saturday marched until they reached St. Joseph Baptist Church. There, they sat and listened to gospel music and reflected on the life of King.

One of the observers was Jenell Butler, 87. She recalled coming to the area in 1946 and how the schools were segregated.

"Much has changed," she said. "We came this far by faith."

Sitting next to Elijah at church were his parents. His dad, Leonard, said he was glad his son came to Saturday's events. He said he told his son about life in Port Lavaca and said it was once difficult to live there.

"There was a bunch of racism," the elder Harvey said. "Even though (blacks) went through struggles, I want him to show people to love and not hate."



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