Community members march, give speeches on UA Mall to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Crowds gathered to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. with a march on the UA Mall Monday.
This year marked the 27th annual commemorative birthday celebration and brought the community together to celebrate King’s legacy through the event, themed, “Reflection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — The Man and his Dream.”
In recent years, the march traditionally began at the UA and ended at Reid Park. This year, however, the event took a new route. Rather than leaving campus, participants walked around the perimeter of the UA Mall for about 20 minutes.
After the march ended, various performers took the stage and gave speeches, played the drums, danced and sang songs, including multiple renditions of the national anthem. Speakers also mentioned President Barack Obama’s second inuguration and made connections between King’s time and where society is now.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat The 27th annual Martin Luthor King Jr. walk took place around the perimeter of the UA Mall, ending with speeches by community members,on Jan. 21.
“I thought it was a way to honor both Martin Luther King and President Obama on this day, rather than sit looking at the television inauguration,” said Ann Weekes, a retired associate professor of humanities and English at the UA and an attendee.
George Epps, a speaker at the event, read King’s famous speech, “I Have A Dream.”
“You know, this isn’t for show. This is because it’s important to us. But the work that we still have to do is still important,” said Clarence Boykins, chairman of the celebration. “We’re still here, we still count and we will be counting.”
Members from Eta Psi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. spoke about King and performed in his honor. The fraternity has a special connection to King, as King once pledged to the fraternity while attending graduate school at Boston University, according to Brian Hairston, vice president of the Tucson chapter.
Other members of the community said they felt it was important to share in the celebration.
“I think my kids are old enough to start understanding who Martin Luther King Jr. was,” said Melissa Brosanders, a mother of two.
Brosanders said this was her first time attending the march.
Some also commented on the need to celebrate the holiday and understand its significance.
“It’s our holiday. It belongs to all of us,” Boykins said. “My job is to make as many of us pleased with the work, the things we do to participate, to be a part of the process, to understand why we do this.”