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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Obamania drives annual MLK march

    The celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and excitement over the inauguration of the first black president, Barack Obama, went hand in hand Monday as students, teachers and Tucsonans marched to honor King’s accomplishments.

    The historical precedence of Obama’s inauguration and the impact of King’s life on civil rights brought many people together to discuss the issues of racism and progress in America.

    The two-and-a-half mile march began 8 a.m. Monday, after an introductory program on the UA Mall, and ended nearly two hours later at the DeMeester Outdoor Performing Center in Gene Reid Park, 3101 E. 22nd Street. Once the march was complete, the “”festival celebration”” commenced, which included food, music and speeches until 4 p.m.

    Many of the hundreds in attendance wore Obama-inspired shirts with the words “”freedom”” or “”hope”” printed under a portrait of Obama, and many of the speeches given during the course of the festival tied together the importance of King’s life with the hope of Obama’s future.

    Martha Padilla, 43, said she came from her home two miles south of Reid Park to participate in the march with her family.

    “”The festival was wonderful,”” Padilla said. “”It was fun; there was food and music and lots of people. It is a holiday worth celebrating.””

    “”People here are excited. First, it’s a holiday and people are off work, and second, people are beginning to really think about having a president be black and what that means,”” Padilla said. “”Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I think people here are really feeling happy.””

    Though some of Monday’s fervor spawned from the upcoming inauguration of America’s first black president, not everyone felt that the connection between the two leaders could be so easily made.

    “”I don’t find any special connection between the march today and the inauguration tomorrow,”” said Adam Rohlik, an elementary education junior. “”I think it’s just a big coincidence that they happened to fall so close to one another.””

    Rohlik, who did not participate in the march or festival on Monday, believed that too much emphasis was being placed on the similarities between the two, saying that America is different now than it was then, and what Obama is doing is completely separate from what King did.

    “”It is definitely going to be an interesting time,”” Rohlik said, in reference to Obama’s presidency. “”Hopefully it will do something to change the way people think about America and the way Americans think about each other.””

    Weston Westenborg, a sociology junior, said that while it is hard to make a direct connection between Obama and King, he believes that they represent similar ideas.

    “”I don’t know if we will ever fully eliminate racism in this country, but electing Obama is definitely a prominent indicator that we are taking steps in the right direction,”” Westenborg said.

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