(Photo: Citizens march along historic Auburn Street in downtown Atlanta)
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. March and Rally celebrated the life and legacy of the late Civil Rights leader on Monday, January 21. Several organizations such as the National Pan-Hellenic Council or D9, Teens Against Justice and more joined thousands of citizens to march on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta.
King, a leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 until his assassination on April 4, 1968, shared his vision non-violently of a diverse America for everyone to enjoy the benefits of equality.
Miss Black Georgia USA 2019 Chasten McCrary participated in the march to celebrate MLK and “everything that he has done for our country.”
“I think the significance is to see that we have different people of different races, social-economic status, religions, and we’re all here as one together marching, McCrary said. “This is a visual representation of his legacy, especially in the city of Atlanta.”
Andrew Garrett, a Chicago native, marched with a stack of newspapers with stickers that said, “Trump/Pence Must Go!” Garrett made it clear that he wasn’t fond of the 45th president noting that God is in control of the universe and people “must keep praying.”
Garrett says King’s legacy motivated him to become a better man.
“I got five daughters, and being from Chicago, we don’t get to march in Chicago because it’s rough up there, but Dr. King is awesome,” Garrett said. “So I’ve come from Chicago to march for my family back home.”
As part of the commemorative events celebrating the vision of King, Rev. Bessie Donaldson, assistant minister at Big Bethel AME Church attended a cake, coffee, and community fellowship. Donaldson said that the march and rally is a reminder of his dream.
“To remind us of the struggle that we were in, to remind us what he did while he was alive, and what he attempted to do, and remind us what’s ahead of us,” Donaldson said.
For the minister and director of Big Bethel’s Saturday School, the struggle isn’t over. “It looks like we’ve gone backward instead of forward,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson wants her students at the Saturday school to learn more about King’s legacy through the march. “I find that they’re learning a lot in school, but I want them to learn more of what it means to love everybody, treating everybody the same, and how nobody should be separated from another.”
While King did not live to see his vision for this nation come into fruition, his efforts before his assassination shine through as people continue to advocate of keeping his dream alive.
I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama — with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brother-hood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire; let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York; let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania; let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado; let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia; let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee; let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. “From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men, and white men, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”