HAMMOND | The Matlock family bundled up and arrived early Monday morning at Hammond City Hall for the city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. march.
The Matlocks, including 8-year-old Micah Matlock, walked with approximately 30 other marchers in bitterly cold weather from City Hall to a celebration at the Hammond Civic Center to honor King.
“I wanted to show my son even though it was cold, they did much more for less,” said his mother Jajuana Matlock, of Hammond.
Central to the celebration on Monday that drew a crowd of about 300 people at the Civic Center was keeping King's dream alive and emphasizing the importance of the holiday to young people.
“We are trying to keep the dream alive,” said the Rev. H.A. Polk, with the Ministerial Alliance of Hammond and Vicinity.
“Dr. King worked hard for not just African-Americans, but he worked hard for all minorities, all injustice. We don't want our young people to ever forget where we come from and where we need to go.”
Many of the speakers alluded to the fact that the public inauguration for President Barack Obama, the first African-American to hold the office, coincided with MLK Day.
“I think Dr. King, if he was able to look at what's happening in America today, he would be very proud, and he would realize we have a long way to go,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said.
State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, recalled King's “The Drum Major Instinct” speech when the civil rights leader asked to be remembered as a drum major for justice and that he decided to do good and try to serve the people.
“Each one of us can be the drum major,” Randolph said, “and every one of us have been a drum major in our small way.”
Notable Hammond High School graduate Roland Parrish, who chairs the National Black McDonald's Operators Association, also referred to King's Drum Major speech in calling on students to work on building their character.
“Young folks, build your character. Build the content of your character because you might just have to lead the parade,” Parrish said.