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<p>Hundreds of people showed their support for Martin Luther King Jr. and the equality for which he stood by walking east down University Avenue on Jan. 18, 2016. Some held signs for other causes they supported, such as stricter gun laws or mayoral candidates in Gainesville, while others walked with friends from church and sang impromptu, uplifting songs along the way.</p>

Hundreds of people showed their support for Martin Luther King Jr. and the equality for which he stood by walking east down University Avenue on Jan. 18, 2016. Some held signs for other causes they supported, such as stricter gun laws or mayoral candidates in Gainesville, while others walked with friends from church and sang impromptu, uplifting songs along the way.

Jamal Ransom said he’ll never forget leading a march for the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Day.

Jamal, 14, next to his 18-year-old cousin, Anthony Ransom, led a crowd of about 400 community members Monday for an MLK march.

The day started with elected officials, community members and members of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission of Florida, Inc., speaking on the steps of City Hall about King’s virtues and the need to continue his mission of social justice.

Commission president Rodney J. Long said Gainesville has made progress over the last 30 years in promoting social equality.

However, African-Americans still face problems like racism, the criminal justice system, health disparities and lack of economic opportunities, he said.

“I’m sad to tell you that the more things change, the more they remain the same,” Long said.

Later, the Commission awarded a $10,000 scholarship to Nadia Thomas, an 18-year-old senior at Gainesville High School.

Thomas said she was glad to see a diverse group of people and believed that Dr. King’s dream had come to pass.

“But there’s still work that needs to be done,” she said about police brutality and racial discrimination. “A lot of us have been talking about it, but it’s time to be about it.”

At about 1 p.m., the crowd gathered for the MLK march.

Some sang songs as they marched. Others, like Anthony and Jamal, were silent.

Through his aviators, Anthony looked at the road ahead of him, honored to lead the march.

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“We always lead from behind every single day,” he said, “but today we are leading from the front.”

Contact Hunter Williamson at hwilliamson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @hunterewilliam

Hundreds of people showed their support for Martin Luther King Jr. and the equality for which he stood by walking east down University Avenue on Jan. 18, 2016. Some held signs for other causes they supported, such as stricter gun laws or mayoral candidates in Gainesville, while others walked with friends from church and sang impromptu, uplifting songs along the way.

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