Message behind Freedom March hasn't changed through the decades

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) Through the sound of thousands of footsteps a song stands out of the noise.

Singing while he marches down Main Street, Jessie Heard says every word means something to him.

"When I sing those songs it just brings back tears to my heart," he said.

It's an emotional march for Heard because he's done this before in a different time and place.

"I marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. as a little child," he said.

He says then they marched in the face of danger for racial equality and justice.

"I can remember the water hoses, I can remember the billy clubs, I remember the little white tank that they brought out. I remember the dogs, I remember them taking us to juvenile," Heard said.

He says he was jailed for two days in Birmingham, Alabama after marching with Dr. King.

When the first Freedom March was held in downtown Lexington in the late 1980s, there were less than 500 people.

Coordinators of the march said during Monday morning’s event there were as many as 5,000 people.

While the number of people marching through Lexington has changed, their reasons for marching haven't.

"We carry his spirit and what he stood for and try to live that out," said president of the Lexington Urban League P.G. Peeples.

Heard said, "To see that his dream and what he believed in, justice and equality of life, it's just amazing and my heart is thrilled."

Heard says seeing the fulfillment of Dr. King's dreams is why he can't keep happiness from spilling from his lungs and singing as loudly as he can.

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