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March of Hope seeks to unite community to stop violence

by Matthew Hutcheson | September 18, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.
Marchers in the March of Hope set out to walk through the Rock Island neighborhood in El Dorado. (Matt Hutcheson/News-Times)

A number of local residents gathered in the Rock Island neighborhood on Saturday for the March of Hope. The march, organized by non-profit organization Parents United Against Youth Violence along with local resident Nathan Rainey, Sr., focused on raising awareness of violence and its effects on families and the community.

Led by Ana Ford of Parents United, marchers departed from a field near Rainbow Food Mart on Washington Ave. and set off around the neighborhood. The walk, escorted by an El Dorado Police Dept. officer, was punctuated by singing and greetings and waves from people who came out of their houses to watch.

One stop was made on S. West Ave at a sign dedicated to Ieshia Jackson, a local woman who has been missing since early November 2020, where Jackson's brother Jiqez and mother Laquita Parker led prayers and singing.

Jackson's case has continually drawn attention locally and beyond; a candlelight vigil held for her last November is just one example of an event organized to bring awareness to the fact that she is still missing.

Another similar march took place in June that concluded with a community summit just outside of Memorial Stadium and, like Saturday's march, are part of an ongoing effort by local organizations to unite the community and create a movement to address and curb violence in El Dorado.

After the march concluded, marchers gathered across from Rainbow Mart for performances by local Christian rapper J2W and performance group Young Artist Studio (Y.A.S.), singers Heaven Mcalphin and Boomer Hill and several speeches.

Another march is currently being planned for March 2024, according to Ford, and Parents United will also feature in this year's El Dorado Christmas parade.

photo Marchers in Saturday's March of Hope stopped at a sign bringing awareness to Ieshia Jackson, who has been missing since Nov. 2020. Jackson's brother, Jiqez, led marchers in prayer and song. (Matt Hutcheson/News-Times)

Print Headline: March of Hope seeks to unite community to stop violence


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