Six teenagers are walking to Memphis, Tennessee, on a symbolic journey to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights hero who was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, on April 4, 1968.
Their march, which started on Highway 61 near Dundee, Mississippi, is 50 miles long — one for each year since King was killed.
Five of the participants — JaQuon Ohara, Damonte’ Steele, Cameron Allison, Davonta Pate and Raphael Williams — are black. Benjamin Rutledge is white.
Aged 14 to 19, they are all from Pearl and Richland, Mississippi.
“Our hope is to not only honor all that Dr. King achieved, but to be part of continuing his work,” said Jarvis Ward, organizer of the trek and president of Pearson Foundation, a community service organization based in Pearl, Mississippi.
“We want to show how racial justice, economic justice and racial reconciliation can be advanced in and by the next generation.”
Along the way, the teenagers are discussing “civil rights and justice issues and model reconciliation and healthy racial relations” with the help of two adult mentors who are also walking with them, a press release said. The marchers all wear aquamarine T-shirts and carry a banner with an image of King’s face.
The group also has a police escort provided by the Pearl Police Department, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and municipal and county law enforcement agencies.
Once in Memphis, they will join a youth rally planned for Tuesday evening and attend anniversary activities at the National Civil Rights Museum.
“Physical training hasn’t been much, frankly. Jarvis is training them to handle civil rights and reconciliation issues,” Ron Forseth, co-director of the march, told CNN.
“After 28 miles, they are certainly sore and tired with some blisters and worn ankles. But their spirits are high.”