COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Thousands showed up to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy in the Chattahoochee Valley. Despite the cold weather, about 2,500 people joined the march to the Government Center to honor the man who gave his life for freedom and equality.
The Dream Lives program started at noon on Jan. 18. About 1,500 people pre-registered for the march. An additional 1,000 people joined the program a few hours before the march to show their support for Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and other elected officials welcomed thousands of people who marched with banner and signs. There was dancing, music, free snacks and hot chocolate for all attendees.
Morris Dees, a founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and respected civil right activist who obtained multi-million dollar civil judgments against the Ku Klux Klan, spoke to the crowd. Charles Person, the youngest Freedom Rider, was also in attendance.
"The laws have changed and many people have changed for the better," Person said. "However, we need to continue to make this world a better place to live in."
Person met Martin Luther King, Jr. before King became famous. When Person was injured with the other Freedom Riders, King provided them with help and medical treatment.
"Our younger generation will have a lot to deal with," Person said. "Veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq will need your support and help. Young people will also need to think about finding ways to help underprivileged children learn how to read and write."
Person said change often comes from young people.
"Old people are often content with things the way they are because they lived through it," Person said. "It is going to take young people and their desire to make a change, and they will do it. You people need to talk and share ideas. Learn from your elders' past and see ways to improve the future."
To see a full list of MLK day events, visit this link.