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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


March on campus commemorates life, legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Carlos Herrera/ The Daily Wildcat The Martin Luther King Jr. March and Festival Celebration was hosted at the Demeester Performance Pavilion at Reid Park Monday. Hundreds gathered at the UA Mall and marched to the park, where speakers, vendors, and performers entertained and educated on King’s legacy and the future of civil rights.

Children, students, teachers and people from across Tucson gathered on the UA Mall on Monday to march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and promote current social justice issues.

Participants met at 8:30 a.m. for a free breakfast and a Zumba warm-up led by members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black sorority on campus.

“We are out here today for MLK, passing out breakfast, hitting one of our health initiatives,” said Alexyz Liggins, a journalism and communications junior and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

The dance was followed by several speakers, including Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Congressman Raul Grijalva, who discussed the importance of King’s dream. The crowd also participated in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before marching to Reid Park, where the festivities continued with food and guest speakers.

This marks the 28th year the Tucson Martin Luther King Jr. Committee has put together an event to celebrate King’s life. Since Clarence Boykins, president of the Tucson-Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce, recently underwent surgery, Ron Burton, a former administrator for Tucson, took the reins this year.

Burton said he believes that recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day is still as important as ever.

“We’re doing this to make people remember that this man had a dream,” Burton said. “A lot of people are saying now, ‘Why would you want to do this? You have a black president. … But it’s not all that; it’s about the things he had in his dream; it’s about these things that are going to keep us moving forward. … If you don’t have a dream, then you don’t survive. So we’re taking his dream and making it survive.”

Burton said Arizona does not have a great track record with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as it was the 49th state to recognize the day as an official holiday. The festivities on Monday were in part an attempt to atone for the state’s shortcomings in the past and educate the youth, according to Burton.

“This is for the young people. … It’s a chance, an opportunity for us to get together and talk about the issues and the things that we have in the world today,” Burton said. “These young people don’t know about the history of Tucson; they don’t know about how long it took us to march, to get the executive order [to make the date an official holiday].”

Despite all of King’s work and how far America has progressed, there are still inequalities that needs to be addressed, said Donna Baker X, a UA alumna and marcher for Jobs with Justice, a worker’s rights organization.

“There’s still discrimination against people of color,” Baker X said. “So that’s why we’re talking about Jobs with Justice. You know, unemployment is higher for black people than it is for any other race.”

Jobs with Justice had a large turnout at the march. Several of the participants held signs that read “Jobs not War” and “Workers Rights for All.”

One marcher, CJ Jones, said he supported the organization because “everyone should have a job and good pay.”

Other organizations that support social justice participated in the event as well. Margo Newhouse, who represents Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, also attended.

“[WILPF] is an organization that is almost 100 years old, and is always working for current issues of peace and justice,” she said. “All the issues that I believe in are all things that Martin Luther King Jr. certainly stood for. I’m here to support all the groups that are fighting for justice. We’ve a long way to go.”

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