LITTLE ROCK — An agreement reached last week to end decades of state desegregation payments to the three school districts in Pulaski County does not mean that the work of desegregation is over, the superintendent of the Little Rock School District said Monday.

LITTLE ROCK — An agreement reached last week to end decades of state desegregation payments to the three school districts in Pulaski County does not mean that the work of desegregation is over, the superintendent of the Little Rock School District said Monday.


Dexter Suggs was the main speaker at a program at the state Capitol following the 28th annual Marade, a combination march and parade in downtown Little Rock celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Marade and program at the Capitol were organized by the Arkansas NAACP and were among numerous activities held around the state to mark the holiday.


On Jan. 13 a federal judge gave final approval to an agreement to end about $70 million in annual payments the state had been making to the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts under a 1989 settlement agreement to fund desegregation efforts.


"As we fade away from that financial responsibility that was placed on the state, do not be misled to think that we have accomplished our goal, because we have a long way to go, a long way to go," Suggs said Monday, standing on the Capitol steps on a sunny day with temperatures unseasonably high in the mid-60s.


"Whenever you wake up and on the news you hear, ‘Youg black male kills another black man, young black male drops out of school,’ we have not fulfilled our obligation under the deseg program," he said.


Suggs — whose mother chose his name after reading that Martin Luther King Jr. had a son named Dexter — said that for King’s dream of equality to be kept alive, all students must have an opportunity to learn and maximize their potential.


"As you depart this ceremony today, I challenge you to take on the responsibility of being a positive difference-maker in our community and also in our great city. Never forget: The battle and the journey will continue on and must continue on, for this is a fight, this is a battle which we have yet to win, but this is a battle which I feel strongly we can win," he said.


The program also included comments by Arkansas NAACP President Dale Charles, who urged anyone there who had not registered to vote to do so. Charles criticized Arkansas’ controversial new law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, saying it targets a non-existent voter fraud problem but its true purpose is "to restrict and take away your right to vote."


America has "come quite a ways" toward realizing King’s dream, "but there’s still a ways to go," Garry Torrence of Little Rock said while watching the Marade.


Torrence said he was a child when King was assassinated in April 1968, but he can remember some of the anger, grief and turmoil that followed.


"But we overcame it. We’ll continue to overcome," he said.


Other activities that were scheduled Monday to honor the slain civil rights leader included a day of service in Little Rock sponsored by the state Martin Luther King Jr. Commission; a day of service at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; a prayer breakfast at Shorter College in North Little Rock; and a breakfast, parade, concert and day of service in Pine Bluff, with Gov. Mike Beebe speaking at the latter program.


Also scheduled were a breakfast and march at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith; a breakfast at the University of Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Council’s 18th annual Recommitment Banquet in Fayetteville; a march in Conway; an empowerment summit, carnival and city-wide cleanup in Jacksonville; and a community service, dance and candlelight vigil at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.


King was born on Jan. 15, 1929. His holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January.