MLK Jr. Day March and Rally Bring Large Turnout From the Community
Hundreds of people young and old gathered Monday morning to remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a march and rally.
Stephan Witherspoon, President of the Duluth chapter of the NAACP, led the marchers through chants as they walked from the Washington Community Center all the way down to the DECC.
“No justice!” Witherspoon yelled. “No peace!” the crowd would respond.
“Show me what Democracy looks like!” Witherspoon yelled out next. “This is what Democracy looks like!” the crowd retorted.
Salaam Witherspoon has been the Chair of the MLK Planning Committee for the last three years and she said that her favorite part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is seeing all the people gather and march together.
“I like looking back and seeing two blocks of people marching together,” Witherspoon said. “It energizes the community by doing something for justice.”
After the march came to an end, the rally was held at Symphony Hall, where it began with a rendition of the Negro National Anthem.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson and Superior Mayor Jim Paine took the stage together to officially declare that January 21, 2019 as Martin Luther King Day in the Twin Ports.
The next performance was a spoken word poem by the ARE Poets which highlighted the current state of race relations in the United States from all sides.
This year’s keynote speaker was Me’Lea Connelly, a Minneapolis activist and founder of Blexit, spoke on the theme “the current crisis.” The theme comes from the 1958 article by Dr. King fully titled, “The Current Crisis in Race Relations,” where King states that the crisis had been affirmed by the reactions of the country to the Supreme Court’s decision to integrate schools.
“The time for justice and equity is now,” Connelly said. “Remember your power.”
Later, the Drum Major Peace Awards were announced for three groups: youth, adult, organization, for people and groups who help others in the community.
Patience Thompson, 9, was the winner for the youth, Kym Young was the winner for the adult award, and UMD QTIPOCC won for the organization.
For the last part of the rally, the Duluth Chapter was sworn in as officers of the NAACP.
Salaam Thompson said that she was happy with the turnout and Myron Mccoo, Executive Board of the NAACP Duluth Chapter and on the MLK Planning Committee, agreed that the marches and rallies have galvanized the community.
“[The turnout shows] we’re all in it together regardless of race,” Mccoo said. “We all believe in elements of social justice.”