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"MLK Day march unites UA, Tucson for 25th year"

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Mike Christy | The Daily Wildcat Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Members of the Grandview Masonic Lodge #23 lead the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day March on Monday to honor the civil rights leader of the 1960s. Marchers held signs and posters honoring Dr. King as they marched from the UA Mall east along Broadway Boulevard to Reid Park.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the annual MLK Day March from the UA campus to Reid Park.


""I would like to welcome everyone coming out to march with us today in the legacy, in the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,"" said Maria Moore, interim program director for UA African American Student Affairs.

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The cold weather and possibility of rain did not stop the participants from making the walk.


""We must seize the moment,"" said Clarence Boykins, who runs the Tucson Celebration Committee for the holiday and has conducted the march in each of its 25 years. ""If we choose to not use it, then we will truly lose it.""


The crowd stretched from the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium to Campbell Avenue and the participants held signs in both English and Spanish. 


The three-mile trek was filled with smiling faces, friendly conversation and inspired singing.


""Everywhere we go, people want to know who we are, so we tell them,"" sang one group of marchers in a ""Remember The Titans""-like tune. ""We're marching for our freedom and an education.""


At the end of the march, the crowd was welcomed by the rhythmic sound of drums and the smell of catfish, kettle corn and hot dogs at Reid Park.


Carl Bedford, the master of ceremonies, said, ""We're really happy that you're here. We're here to have a great time and we invite you to join us in that.""


Bedford welcomed to the stage 20-year-old Justin Moore to sing the national anthem. Moore inspired quite a response from the growing audience.


""It was definitely a blessing to be able to share what God has blessed me with, with everyone else,"" Moore said. ""This day means a lot. It is awesome to celebrate a man who has given so much to all of us.""


A majority of the participants were students and student organizations.


Randy Baires, an education senior and the president of the Omega Delta Phi fraternity, explained, ""We're a multicultural organization, one of the brothers brought it up and everyone got on board.""


Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elias spoke about the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the march.


""I think it's a great time for all of us to get out and bring consciousness to the issue of civil rights and to energize us to do the right things in our communities,"" he said.


Boykins took time to remind his attentive audience that there is more to be done. ""Our job is not through, the work is not done,"" he said. ""Enjoy the day, we'll see you back here next year, same time, same place.""


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