The rainfall that was predicted for Pine Bluff Saturday afternoon held off long enough for a small group of children and adults to march down Main Street to the Civic Center complex to protest against gun violence.
Sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration (ICVR) and the NAACP, the march featured participants carrying banners and signs promoting non-violence, and calling for mentors to work with young people.
“These children are saying there’s been enough violence in Pine Bluff and it’s time to stop the violence,” said Derrick Newby, president of ICVR.
Newby said 50 years ago, the historic civil rights march at Birmingham, Ala., was started by children, and that was followed by the march on Washington.
Saying that his mentor is President Barrack Obama, Newby said “every child deserves a mentor to inspire them to achieve.
“It’s terrible not to have a goal,” he said. “That’s like running up and down the basketball court and never scoring. Goals are a road map to the future and what is possible.
“Join the movement,” Newby said. “These children have a goal.”
Mayor Debe Hollingsworth was one of those who participated in the march, telling a crowd at the Civic Center complex that “it takes courage to do what these children are doing.
“They’re taking a stand,” she said, “and education is the key.”
Hollingsworth said the children are “calling out to us and saying they want help, they need help, and saying ‘listen to me.’
“We need to listen to what the children are saying and I’m asking you to step up to the plate, take an active role and do something,” she said.
At a press conference earlier this week promoting the march, Hollingsworth said studies have shown that 46 million people are exposed to violence, crime and abuse annually.
“Recognizing the facts is the first step to implementing a strategy,’ she said. “As city leaders, parents and grandparents we need to all come together, set aside our differences, and focus on what’s important and that’s our children.”
In addition to Hollingsworth, Jefferson County Judge Dutch King and Aldermen Steven Mays and Lloyd Holcomb Jr., participated in the march Saturday.