Marching to keep the dream alive
Marchers from the Mount Pleasant community gathered Monday afternoon to honor the legacy of a civil rights leader whose dream continues to inspire, decades after his decease.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday was celebrated with the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace March and Vigil that traveled from Central Michigan University’s campus to Broadway Street downtown. Singing erupted from the front of the pack as marchers reached the end, with signs bobbing up and down. The chatting crowd grew quiet, as their attention was drawn toward the speeches and performances to follow.
Surprise guest James king, an alumni who helped start the marching tradition, said the original peace march in 2004 was more spontaneous than this one.
Unlike you all, I didn't have the pleasure of having Martin Luther King Day off," King said. "One day a group of us were sitting on the floor of our apartment and we decided to make a change. Instead of going to the MLK breakfast, we would go outside and protest."
ing said they marched through the library and every cafeteria with homemade signs that were created in the middle of the night as campus slept. The standing ovations they received in every location were remarkable, and the group of 20 protestors grew to 50 by the end.
"It wasn't as big as this one though," King said. "This is astounding."
Two years later, CMU students get the break from classes. However, current students said that doesn't mean MLK day is a day for students to turn off their attention to national issues like systemic racism.
"It's not a day off, it's a day on," said Inkster sophomore Devante Schofield.
Schofield said the march gives participants "a chance to reflect" on the history of African-Americans. He believes Martin Luther King achieved a large part of what he set out to do, but the nation has some more growing before the dream is reality.
"There is always going to be something to keep people stagnate, there is always going to be work to do," he said. "People back then were marching for much stronger reasons, and today I feel like we march to give thanks."
Signs inscribed with several inspirational and uplifting quotes dotted the crowd, but the strength of some stood out.
Mount Pleasant native Kevin Daum made a sign reading “White silence is consent to violence” on one side, and “Black lives matter” on the reverse. Daum said he made the sign after Michael Brawn was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.
"As a white person, my role is talking to other white people," Daum said. "That is what I'm trying to do with this sign — to say that as white people who benefit from racism and perpetuate it, we have a responsibility to end it."