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Today's Youth "Have A Dream" At FWB MLK Rally

The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was commemorated across the region this week, with events ranging from prayer services to parades and rallies. At an event in Fort Walton Beach, the focus was on teaching the youth of today about the work and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The spirit of community service and togetherness was alive and well as people of all ages gathered at Ft. Walton Beach High School to honor Dr. King.

Raymond Nelson, President of the Okaloosa County NAACP said the best way to carry on the legacy of the civil rights leader is for people to set an example for the next generation by engaging in what’s happening in their communities, "Dr. King’s memory and his purpose lives on, but there is still much work that we have to do. I’d like to challenge you. If you’re not involved in an organization then get involved with an organization. I challenge you to get involved, because the work is not done."

Nelson says that getting involved and being of service begins at home and encourages today’s youth to use their voice to let family members know they’re interested in what’s currently happening in the world, "Mom, Dad, Grandma, take me to a city council meeting. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, take me to a school district meeting. Take me to find out what’s going on in the community."

This sentiment is echoed by Eloise Stevens, President of the Okaloosa County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta that hosts the event each year. Stevens says she wants young people to be involved and believes the way to do it is leading by example, "By us showing up and being a part of what happened during the times that Martin Luther King was actually trying to do, which was trying to bring peace and unity to everyone. So I think it’s important as parents, as grandparents, as friends, as teachers that we come out and support his dream because his dream is our dream, we’re all dreamers."

Credit Bridget Womack

Fifty years later, Dr. King’s message of equality is still evident and continues to inspire today’s youth. Melody Womack,  a 4th grader from Wright Elementary says she’s learned a lot from Dr. King’s speech and learning to live peacefully with everyone despite their differences is the moral of his message, "We all want to celebrate Martin Luther King. Everybody should get along even if they’re Americans, African Americans or other color. I think that is important in school and also out of school. I would say that you should all get together, everybody and be nice to each other and one another."