PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - 50 years after his death, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of peace, courage, equality and perseverance are inspiring a new generation of activists.
"Dr. Martin Luther King’s messages were very clear and very simple," said Demitri Hoth, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School. "It was to combat hate and combat reform in a way that was peaceful and through love and I think that the Never Again movement and the things that we’ve been doing really capture that."
"His legacy is still connecting and resonating with leaders of today’s movements," said Ricky Aiken, founder of Inner City Innovators in West Palm Beach.
Like Dr. King led hundreds of thousands of people to march on Washington in 1963, students did the same this year. While the root issues behind the marches were different, the messages were similar.
"It goes to show that the processes that Dr. King used and that we used about spreading love and not hate and about using the power of the people and not violence really makes for a more powerful movement," Hoth said.
Hoth was there when Dr. King’s granddaughter took the stage at the March for Our Lives.
"We learn about Martin Luther King ever since we’re so young. We see documentaries about him and videos about him," he said. "But to see his lineal descendant on stage preaching the same way he preached and spreading a message similar to the one he spread, it really comes full circle."
He said Dr. King’s messages and lessons from half a century ago are guiding the Never Again movement now.
“He is the ultimate icon not only in America, but across the world for peaceful revolutions," he said.
Ricky Aiken, of West Palm Beach, frequently looks to Dr. King for inspiration.
"The way he was able to unite both blacks and whites around the issue of civil rights was a great model for me and how I even approach approving the inner city of West Palm Beach," Aiken said.
Aiken is working to end gun violence among inner city youth. He guides them on a path to success through mentorship and empowerment in his program Inner City Innovators.
"Having someone like MLK to look to as a model and keep reminding our young people of the history, that they’re going to have a time and an opportunity to rise up and be about more than themselves," he said.
For the last few years, Aiken and the young adults he leads have been marching for change too.
"When we do a peace march around violence, that connects us to the spirit of Dr. King," he said.