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Phoenix celebrates MLK day with march and festival

(Sharon Mittelman/KTAR News)

Phoenix, Ariz. — Hundreds marched today in Phoenix to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and then gathered in Hance Park to honor the civil rights leader.

Nine-year-old Isiah Lewis of Phoenix recited Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream speech” from memory.

Festival coordinator Emmett Boyd said it’s important to commemorate Dr. King’s birth to keep his message alive.

“We need to get to a point where we respect everyone as an individual,” Boyd said. “Our country is built on the fact that there are differences, but our differences are what make us great.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has been celebrated in the United States for thirty years, but it has only been a legal holiday in Arizona for the last 23 years. Boyd noted that Arizona was the only state in the union to actually vote on whether Dr. King’s birthday should be a holiday. Boyd said that that is a reminder that this holiday involves the rights of all people.

“Everyone is a human being, regardless of race, creed, or orientation.”

Boyd said the holiday is being celebrated this year with the motto, “It’s not a day off, it’s a day on,” where residents are being encouraged to serve their local communities with volunteer projects.

The festival included speeches, live entertainment, a kids’ zone, booths showcasing crafts, along with health and wellness, and of course, food.

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