Rankin County students march in honor of 50th anniversary of sla - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Rankin County students march in honor of 50th anniversary of slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WL:BT Source: WL:BT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A group of Rankin County students are commemorating Dr. King's life and slaying in a special way -- with a march of their own.

"These young guys, that will be walking, will be processing what will that generation do," said March to Memphis organizer Jarvis Ward with the PEARSON Foundation.

Saturday, nine Rankin County students begin the journey of a lifetime -- walking 50 miles from Dundee, Mississippi to Memphis to take part in the observation of the life and death of Dr. King. The civil rights leader was in Memphis on April 4, 1968, participating in the Sanitation Workers Strike when he was killed.

The PEARSON Foundation or People Employing Available Resources to Strengthen Our Neighborhoods is a mentoring organization based in Pearl. The non-profit is sponsoring the march.

"We hope that they will first get a big education on some of the Civil Rights history as we go through the Mississippi Delta and get into Memphis," said Ward. "We hope, culturally, they'll be able to bond and also model good racial relations, reconciliation and peace."

The teenagers look at the march as a challenge, character builder and history lesson.

"I hope to gain a closer relationship with my friends on this trip. I mean you don't know a lot of people that walk 50 miles together," said 15-year-old Demonte Steele, who attends Pearl High School. "I also just want to learn as much as I can about Martin Luther King Jr., what he fought for."

Raphael Williams is majoring in computer engineering at Jackson State University.

The 21-year-old will be taking part in the march.

He serves as a mentor to the teens at The PEARSON Foundation.

"What I want to take away is the history lesson. We're gonna learn along the way, going to different places that we're gonna walk along this 50 miles," said Williams. "We're going to be going to Tunica. We're going to the actual church that he was actually a part of. So we're actually gonna get that experience of the things that he had to do along the way."

The Pearl Police Department, MHP and other law enforcement will escort the group. Six adults will walk with them.

Benjamin Rutledge, a senior at Pearl High School, hopes to make this a spiritual journey as well.

"There is hope in that it is getting better every day, and I see it in school with people and our generation," said Rutledge. "If you just put Christ first, you know you can look past differences on the outside and always look at the heart."

On April 4, the group will convene at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church where King gave his final speech. 

"These guys are gonna learn a lot. That information, that education will be a part of their transformation into solid men," added Ward.

After gathering with groups from across the country at the church they will then march to the National Civil Rights Museum, formerly the Lorraine Motel where King was killed.

The march will be chronicled on the March to Memphis Facebook page.

The organization is also collecting donations to finance the march on GoFundMe.

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