UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- When Marron Mcleod was in the service, he fought for a country that turned its back on him.
"Say if you took a German prisoner and transfer them from Germany to the United States, he had more rights than I had," said Marron McLeod.
Years later, he designs the route for the Martin Luther King Jr. March in Utica that starts at the St. Hope Chapel Zion Church. Each step lightens the load on his heart.
"Marching, stuff like that, that helps eliminate, it makes me feel better," said McLeod.
This day celebrates the birth of the civil rights leader and many say they can't imagine life today had he never been born.
"I don't think we would've made the progress we've made with regard to prejudice, discrimination, segregation. I don't think we'd be as far as we are," said Jean Davis, chairman of the Oneida County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. Committee.
This march honors the progress Martin Luther King Jr. made but several of the marchers said the country has more steps to take forward.
"We still are not where we should be as a nation of everyone being Americans and we still are not always judged by the content of our character, but by the color of our skin," said Davis.
The president of the Utica branch of NAACP, Dietra Harvey, says carrying Dr. king's mission forward is about more than eliminating racism, it's about breaking down all barriers that stand between us.
"Sometimes its a challenge to accept differences, but when we come together to make the decision individually to do so then that can make all the difference," said Harvey.
Connect with Anna on Facebook and Twitter.