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Children pass a torch, meant to be the symbol of hope, during a parade commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 in Phoenix. (Aaron Granillo/KTAR)

PHOENIX -- Thousands of people gathered in downtown Phoenix Monday morning to march in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Many in the crowd were carrying signs and banners with messages of peace and hope.

"His commitment to social justice and equality for all is why we are here today and able to do what we are able to do," said Valerie Churchwell, member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee in Phoenix.

The march, which began at 9 a.m., took the crowd from Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church at 14th and Jefferson streets to Margaret T. Hance Park.

At the very front of the crowd were children who were taking turns as torchbearers. Churchwell said the flame symbolizes hope.

"It's the commemoration of passing hope. It's the symbolism of the passing the flame from the generation to the younger generation," she said.

A festival at the park featured local artists reciting King's "I Have a Dream" speech. There was also singing, poetry and guest speakers.

Aaron Granillo, News Editor

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