This year's Dream Walk in Sumter would have made Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proud.
Monday marked the federal holiday celebrating King's life, and Sumter held its 18th annual Dream Walk in honor of the influential American civil rights leader with …
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Monday marked the federal holiday celebrating King's life, and Sumter held its 18th annual Dream Walk in honor of the influential American civil rights leader with a 3-mile walk that started and ended at University of South Carolina Sumter's Nettles Auditorium.
More than 400 people braved the cold morning temperatures to participate in the walk, according to college officials. USC Sumter sponsored the event in partnership with Morris College and Central Carolina Technical College.
Attendees included people of all ages and races. Youth, college students and staff, alumni representing black fraternities and sororities, churches' congregations and community members all participated in the walk.
Sumter resident Felicia Scott brought her four children and a friend's child to participate.
She said the event was a learning experience for the kids, who range in age from 5 to 13.
"Today is about coming together and showing them how to serve the community," Scott said. "Dr. King stood for unity, racial integration and helping others by serving."
The local Sumter graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Eta Zeta) invited graduates of other chapters from nearby cities. About 50 women from the sorority were on hand, according to member Michelle Davis Parker, who lives in Sumter.
"Martin Luther King Jr. stands for peace and justice," Parker said. "He did everything out of peace and love."
Westminster Presbyterian Church Pastor Stuart Mizelle participated in the Dream Walk with about 25 members of his congregation.
He said the Dream Walk was a good way for his church to love across racial lines and try to build bridges where racial concerns exist.
"It's important because as the church we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves - that's what God says we're supposed to do," Mizelle said. "Because Christ has loved us, we want to love our neighbors as ourselves. And that's why we want to love our community well, and this is just one small way we can do that."
Willana Robinson Green, another Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority local graduate chapter member, said that's what the day was all about.
"It's really good to see people still come together in unity, hope and love, no matter the division occurring in our country," Green said. "We did that today by walking, singing and holding hands."
Parker said it was a day that everyone honored God.
"Today, I think God got the glory because we were all on one accord," Parker said. "When we all get to Heaven, we all are going to be in the same place."
After the walk, a celebration program with musical performances was held in Nettles Auditorium. Sumter resident Frances Hill was the program's keynote speaker. Hill worked 31 years as a community service coordinator at Wateree Community Actions Inc., helping low-income families in need.
Hill said King's legacy is that he was able to change some of the more overt forms of discrimination. She said now, everyone needs to pick up where he left off and change some of the less visible areas.
"It's in our hands now," she said, "and we have to continue to bring change that Dr. King started decades ago."
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