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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students march for change

    Students march for change

    Hundreds braved the cold early yesterday morning to assemble for the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. march and celebration.

    The event is held every year and gathers students and Tucson community members together for a march to Reid Park from the UA Mall.

    “”It’s all about bringing people together,”” said Alethea Gray, a general studies junior on her 21st march. “”It doesn’t matter what race you are. We are here honoring Martin Luther King and his dream.””

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day was declared a national holiday on Nov. 2, 1983.

    The holiday occurs every third Monday in January to commemorate the life and accomplishments of the civil rights visionary, who was assassinated April 4, 1968.

    “”Although we may feel that racism and discrimination don’t exist or have been reduced, it is still there,”” said Chinedu Nworu, a cellular biology graduate student. “”Being here shows we appreciate what Dr. King did for us.

    “”The march is like the sweater you get from your grandma that you wear one day a year to show how much you appreciate it,”” Nworu said. “”It only happens once a year, so getting up early to honor a great man and show appreciation is necessary.””

    The ceremony started around 8 a.m. and hosted many prominent Tucson figures.

    Mayor Robert Walkup and City Councilwoman Nina Trasoff both gave opening speeches from the Mall stage to encourage students and community members to band together for change.

    Pima County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elias also spoke. He reminded the audience to remember that this is the year they can make a difference by exercising their right to vote for change.

    The message for change was prominent in all the opening speeches, but most people agreed they were there to facilitate change and honor a legend.

    “”The goal is to continue the legacy of Dr. King’s lifelong commitment to equality across the community,”” said Bruce Smith, director of the UA’s

    African-American Student Affairs. “”It’s not about black folks fighting anymore. It’s a fight for everyone and our rights. You can see that here today because there are so many people of different races.””

    Among the hundreds gathered were various groups and organizations, including members from multicultural fraternities and sororities, the Jobs for Justice Coalition, church groups and Veterans for Peace.

    As the multitude of community members marched to Reid Park, many held up signs, most campaigning for U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama or representing the organizations they were supporting.

    Song sheets were also passed around as groups sang “”This Little Light”” and “”We Shall Overcome.””

    “”We’re all just here marching in celebration,”” said Iris DeWitt, a sophomore majoring in journalism and Spanish. “”You have to recognize the struggle others, especially Dr. King, had to go through to get where we are today. Without them, we couldn’t be marching.””

    As the march continued, people who noticed the procession parked their cars nearby and ran along to catch up.

    “”This march brings unity across the racial lines,”” said Stan Gordon, a Tucson resident. “”I’d rather be here for a cause than at the mall. Plus, I think that Martin Luther King wouldn’t want us at a furniture store when there is something important like this happening.””

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