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Group marches across MLK Memorial Bridge to honor late civil rights leader, John Lewis

A group honoring John Lewis marched across Toledo's MLK bridge on Saturday, signifying the historic marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama.

TOLEDO, Ohio — As Black History Month comes to an end, a small group of activists gathered on Saturday to remember and honor Civil Rights icon, Rep. John Lewis, who died in July of last year.

The group marched across Toledo's MLK bridge, signifying the historic march Lewis led across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 which ended when state troopers attacked the marchers.

"There is systemic racism everywhere. So, if this march is going to let other people see that we're for real, no more. Then we'll march all night," said Irish Whaley, who traveled several hours to participate.

The Toledo march organizer, Michael Hochanadel, believes Lewis is already fading out of the public's consciousness. 

He wants to bring attention to that and all of Lewis' accomplishments as they march over the Maumee River. 

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"What I'm going to be particularly thinking about is with John Lewis being such a big part of Dr. King's movement. If there was never a John Lewis, would this bridge be named after Martin Luther King," said Michael Hochanadel.

Those at the march say they came because there's still work to be done for equal rights.

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"What he fought for his whole life is still being stomped on and walked all over in 2021, almost 100 years later. That's horrible," said Pennsylvania native, Kaidee Lashway.

Remembering Lewis' activism extends far beyond Toledo.

Some drove several hours to take part in the march.

"We come from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where we like to call it the south of the north. It's a lot of pocket towns that have really deep generational racism," said Leslie Sabatino. 

RELATED: John Lewis memorial destroyed in Capitol riots, lawmaker says

The group of four say it doesn't matter how far they have to travel, they want to keep fighting for a better future.

"We will go anywhere we are called for injustice and representing the call to fight against it," said Pennsylvania activist, Jontel Toland. 

The march organizer says he would like to make the march an annual event in order to keep Lewis' memory and achievements alive.