Heard Elementary students celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated more than 50 years ago, but the mark he made during the civil rights movement lives on.

Heard Elementary students celebrate MLK Day.

“I wouldn't be in this school. I probably wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for him,” says Heard Elementary student Kaidyn Porter.

Kaidyn Porter wants to be an Olympic gymnast.

One of her influences is the words of the late civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Whatever you do don't stop moving forward,” Porter quoted.

The quote reminds her to believe in herself.

“If I don't believe in myself then most likely I’m going to fall on new skills, and I fall then I’m going to get hurt and if you get hurt you can't move forward,” says Porter.

Kaidyn and other 6th graders at Heard Elementary School in Dothan shared how Dr. King's sayings are still relevant today.

“These speeches can still change the world today even if it's 60 years later like this one ‘Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.’ You can always still forgive people,” says Heard student Emily Turner.

King's speeches encouraged love instead of hate.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too hard of a burden to bear,” says Heard student Jude Gamble.

Students say that's a lesson our society could use today.

“There's just a lot of hate in the world. We're just going through a tough time with the wildfires and bushfires in Australia. They're wanting to impeach the president. We're having riots,” says Gamble.

While celebrating Dr. King's legacy, students realized the strength of words.

“Most people when they see something bad happen or something they don't like they usually step back and not worry about it but he really did help and he did make a difference,” says Heard student Alyssa Ward.

His life is evidence that we all have the power to make a change.

“I'm just proud to know that we've come this far. It's just insane to know that he made that much of a difference with the voice that he spoke with because all of us have a voice but it's our decision to choose what we say,” says Gamble.

Heard elementary and all other Dothan City Schools will be closed Monday to allow students to celebrate Martin Luther King Day with their families.