Crowds gather for annual MLK parade

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-18 17:36:50-05

On Monday, people around the country paused to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in Baltimore residents gathered, despite the cold, for the 16th annual parade.

Nine-year-old Machi Graham was one of the thousands on the sidelines, bundled up and watching the parade. His grandfather takes him for the spectacle but to also teach him about King's life.

“Most importantly the contribution he made to society as a whole, and what he's done to try and push society to a new point of understanding about life and people getting along as one person,” said Ralph Jackson, Graham’s grandfather.

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The parade  featured more than 50 community groups and organizations, and its two grand marshals brought some star power. Sonja Sohn is an actress from the hit series "The Wire" and founded a non-profit in Baltimore called Rewired for Change. Justin Forsett is a Baltimore Ravens running back and said this year’s theme, #OneBaltimore, is a push for unity, which is something King embodied.

“Out of all the stuff that we've been through in this city, it's about togetherness,” Forsett said. “You know, it's a blue collar city with a lot of great people in it, and if we're ever going to overcome adversity we're going to have to do it together. We're going to have to be one.”

And in a city that's still healing after being torn apart in riots last year, King’s teachings are a reminder of how to push forward.

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“I think really the message that MLK would have for the people is one of power, of community power, of understanding that leadership will follow you if you lead them,” Sohn said. “We need to step up and hopefully that'll get us to where we need to be, which is a sustainable transformation for the city of Baltimore.”

“We also are trying to make bridges in the community,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said. “We have to repair the distrust and bridge those gaps between the distrust in our communities and law enforcement. I think we're doing a really good job at doing that.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is also recognized as a day of service, and many volunteers participated in service activities around the city.