BAKER, LA (WAFB) - Jared White grew up watching the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Baker, and now he's a part of it.
As the drum major for the Baker High School marching band, he led students down Groom Road to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "I think the thing that people should focus on is unity," White said. "This is the type of program to bring everyone together, and not just people of color, but everyone, because we're united, and that's what he fought for."
Crews are still working on Baker High School after it was damaged in the historic August 2016 flooding, so students and teachers have moved to the middle school in the meantime. The young musicians in Monday's parade say it's been tough dealing with the flood recovery, so they wanted to send out a message of hope.
"This city been through a lot, you know, with the flood and our school being gutted and we have to relocate, you know. This city been through a lot," said Louis Jarvis, a member of the marching band. "So I'm glad. It makes me happy to see people come out to support and do things to give back."
Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn was also in the parade. Given the tumultuous summer in Baton Rouge that brought about issues of community and race relations with police officers, he wanted to convey a new message on this holiday. "I want the citizens to realize that the change is here, the changes are going to come, and if police departments will get rid of the stereotypes and just do what God put in our hearts, just come into these communities and show these citizens love, show them everyday interaction," Dunn said.
"I was listening to something that Martin Luther King said, and he said for change to take place, the people that are being oppressed have to first come together," said Eric Burges, one of the parade organizers. "This is a step toward us bringing ourselves together so that we can move forward as a people."