New Orleans celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with special program & parade

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The City of New Orleans' annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration started with a special program Monday morning on the steps of City Hall.

A prayer of peace was made by religious leaders of different faiths. Dillard University President Dr. Walter Kimbrough gave the keynote address. Then the mayor spoke, promoting peace and tolerance, encouraging the people of New Orleans to take action.

"America is at our best. America is great -- then and now -- when we find greatness through solidarity. When we find greatness through communion. When we find greatness in togetherness," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "My brothers and sisters of New Orleans, have you ever thought what would it look like if the 390,000 of the New Orleanians who are here today all came together as a great community and decided to go in one direction? It would be a great wave."

Immediately after the mayor's speech, the 31st annual Memorial MLK march began, moving from the steps of City Hall down Loyola Avenue towards Uptown. Marchers, bands and dance troupes worked their way to the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument on South Claiborne Avenue and Felicity Street in Central City.

Local leaders held a quick wreath-laying ceremony at the end of the march, praising Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Then members of the community gathered around the monument, snapping photos.