Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade: 'Part of the dream'
Hundreds turn out to march, celebrate MLK Day

LAWRENCEVILLE - Maya Laws wore her reason on her shirt.

The 11-year-old has participated in the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration and march in Lawrenceville since she was a baby, but Monday was special.

Laws was ready to celebrate the inauguration of the first black president the day after King's dream was remembered in honor of what would have been his 80th birthday.

"I wore my (Obama) shirt and everything, so I'm ready," Laws said, bundled up in the cold. "Even though I wasn't there when Dr. King was here, I still want to be part of the dream."

Barack Obama's White House victory was on the minds of many, as a chant of the Illinois senator's campaign motto, "Yes, we can," was heard as the march began down Pike Street.

"We're here to anticipate the destiny of Barack Obama," Lawrenceville Mayor Rex Millsaps said. "I can tell you Barack Obama was not my candidate, but tomorrow, he will be my president."

Sonya Linn brought her children Destiny, 9, Desirae, 6, and King, 5, to the march so they could get a sense of the civil rights movement 40 years ago that brought the country to the day when a black man would become president.

"I wanted them to learn about history. I wanted them to learn about our leaders," Linn said. "This is what Martin would have wanted. This is his dream come true."

United Ebony Society President Joe McCarty estimated that about 650 people marched to Central Gwinnett High School - the biggest turnout since the event began in 2000. He attributed the masses to the anticipation of Obama's inauguration today, as well as the work of Robbie Susan Moore, the society's founder who died last year after convincing all of Gwinnett's cities to commemorate the holiday.

Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer was greeted by applause when he told the crowd the city's offices were closed for its first King holiday.

"It was a long fight, but we are finally here," he said. On Obama, he added, "We said to this world that our democracy works, that anyone of any age or any color can be president of the United States."

While Brownies and Boy Scouts carried signs that said King's dream has been fulfilled, Pastor Jesse Curney III of New Mercies Christian Church stirred people to continue working for equality.

"I want to challenge us this day that we don't become apathetic. ... The dream is still to be worked on," he said.