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A long line of participants in the Martin Luther King Day Marade marched into the Day Armory on Crittenden Street Monday afternoon.

Pat Wright, treasurer of the MLK Committee, emceed the event. She welcomed Taylor Bledsoe, an Arkadelphia High School ninth grader, who was recently selected to go to Washington, D.C. this summer. While at the capital, Bledsoe will have the opportunity to study crime scene investigation and the law system during his six-day trip.

“He is representing not only Arkansas,” Wright said, “but he is also representing Arkadelphia … he is one of those (youths) we need to watch in 2009 and for many years to come.”

Wright also thanked other youths who participated in the MLK Day events. “We are excited about the young people participating. I also want to thank their parents for making this a day on rather than a day off.”
Phil Baldwin, chief executive officer of Southern Bancorp, was the keynote speaker of the annual King Day Celebration. The theme was”Part of the Dream Becoming a Reality.”

“We’re here to celebrate a unique individual,” Baldwin said. “Dr. Martin Luther King touched all of us in a way.” Baldwin listed several of King’s attributes, including his being a father and husband, a minister, a visionary, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a recipient of a presidential medal, an educated man and a revolutionary.

“He was a man of peace. He changed the world … he is frozen in my mind as the 39-year-old man who gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.” He then gave an excerpt of King’s speech, noting its significance to history.
“Martin Luther King spoke to millions (in Washington) and touched the hearts of many others,” he said. Baldwin said he remembers the moment King delivered his famous speech, and that the swearing in of Barack Obama will also be a time everyone remembers in detail.

“People say that being President ages a man 10 years in only one year,” he said. “We need to pray for and support our President … he inherited a lot of problems.”
Baldwin said King’s spirit will be there when Obama is sworn in. “Dr. King will be there … and he will lean over to Obama and say, ‘well done.'”