MLK March unites UA, Tucson community

Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star | The Daily Wildcat Hundreds of marchers in the 33rd annual Martin Luther King March make their way down the bridge on 22nd St east of Kino Blvd on the way to a celebration at Reid Park in Tucson, AZ January 15, 2018.

Hordes of Tucson residents came out to march and honor the life and legacy of prolific civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in Tucson’s 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom March. 

Meant to emulate MLK Jr.’s most well-known acts of civil disobedience and activism, the march, organized by the Southwest Fair Housing Council, began on ML King Jr. Way at Kino Parkway Bridge and ended at Reid Park. 

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Many participants carried signs or banners to express political opinions, remember Dr. King’s life and activism, or affiliate with various community organizations. Messages on the signs also expressed support for the Black Lives Matter and Jobs With Justice movements, as police brutality and economic inequality were significant civil rights issues Dr. King had focused on. 

Families gather in prayer prior to the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Day March in Tucson, AZ January 15, 2018.

Marchers held similar opinions about today’s political climate, claiming that Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is as important as ever. 

“[I wanted the event to] remind people that the vision hasn’t completely been accomplished, and we need to keep working,” said Sherry Luna, co-owner of Patagonia Orchards, 

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Philip Ostrom, the other co-owner of Patagonia Orchards, said he believed that people needed to show up to show that they care about all lives. 

“Also, because this current administration seems to be taking us in the opposite direction… I feel like it’s time to energize people and let them know that all those rights will go away if we remain silent,” Ostrom said.

UA-affiliated individuals and organizations were also present, such as Alpha Kappa Alpha and Alpha Phi Alpha, two historically black Greek organizations. Members handed out water and snacks to marchers and held a banner throughout the march. 

Vernon Wilhite, right, and singers with the Gospel Workshop of America, Tucson Chapter, give it their all during the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Day celebration at Reid Park in Tucson, AZ January 15, 2018.

“We just wanted to raise awareness for what the day stands for, and we’re just doing our community service, doing our part for the community,” said Alpha Phi Alpha alumnus Antoine Moore, who participated in the march to celebrate Dr. King’s life.

After the march, participants gathered to hear Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech played over the speakers, followed by musicians, community groups and entertainers. 

Tucson resident Barta Barnum agreed with other marchers’ views.

“I want to show the world — and Tucson especially — that we should be together, we need to work together, and what’s going on in the current administration is wrong. I want to stand up for that and share my solidarity with people — all people,” Barnum said.

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