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More than 3,000 march for MLK Day 2018 in Spokane

Martin Luther King Day Rally and March 2018 Spokane

More than 3,000 gathered at Spokane’s Convention Center for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally and march to hear a student’s essay, the NAACP Spokane president, a candidate for Congress,  a Congresswoman, a singer, a Whitworth minister and a pastor celebrate the legacy of Dr. King.

Freda Gandy, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Family Outreach Center, was emcee.

Jada Richardson, a Pride Prep freshman who has been involved with the MLK Center, expressed in an essay that she is both resilient and broken.  Early in her 15 years, she thought she had to be obnoxious and angry. Now she knows it does not matter how others identify her, but how she identifies herself.

Jada Richardson shares essay.

“I’m on a journey of self-discovery.  I realize I am more than the stereotypes placed on me.  I am determined to make an impact on the world,” Jada said.

Kurtis Robinson, NAACP Spokane president, said that today Dr. King would say, “Let’s stay focused, not give up, lean on each other and get it done.”

Dismayed at the “ridiculous things” leadership is saying and the efforts to take civil rights backwards, he challenges the system that perpetuates classism, traumatizes the poor and destroys the planet.

“We cannot afford to stand by.  We need to stand up and be in social and political action until we accomplish civil rights,” Kurtis said, pointing out that each person must take responsibility to find their own healing so “we can go to the table of change with an attitude to be respected. We need to hold up the country’s ideals and do it by loving each other as human beings, loving even perceived enemies,” he said.

“King urged people not to give up,” said Kurtis, telling of new energy in the NAACP Spokane, with 14 on the executive committee, new task forces and partners.

Lisa Brown, a candidate for U.S. Representative in the 5th District, urged people to stand up and speak, because “America does not yet have Dr. King’s dream.  The promises of freedom and justice are not met.”

Lisa came with three emotions: gratitude, sorrow and inspiration.

• “I feel grateful for our children, those who came before us, and those who serve the community, those who serve the country and many more.

• “I feel sorrow because there are still homeless vets and youth sleeping on the streets, some people cannot afford health care, the environment is degraded, dreamers’ lives are uncertain, the President uses racial slurs, protection for El Salvadorans is rescinded, and some defend these policies or are silent.

• “I feel inspired by the people here.  We need to stay inspired by faith, music and poetry, founding documents and founding words of liberty and justice for all.

“Let us be inspired to keep talking, walking, marching and inspiring others to change hearts to peace and love and stand in integrity and truth for all who serve us in public life.  Let’s vote,” Lisa said. “Let us walk, talk and march and act to change the country.”

Linda Stone sings of the power and possibilities that come with belief.

Linda Stone, a local singer, said MLK was God’s representative, a Baptist pastor who laid down his life for freedom and justice for all.  All things are possible for those who believe.  Philippians 4:13:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. All we have to do is cast every care on Jesus who goes before us.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers mentioned the prayer of St. Francis: “Make me a channel of your peace.” She spoke through hecklers who called out: “Children’s health!” “DACA!” or “Liar!”

“I am honored to stand with you to dream for a better tomorrow.  We are to love one another,” said Cathy, who couldn’t confirm what the President said about immigration, but decried the language reported as “destructive, divisive profanity.”

“I hope to be part of healing in the community and country,” she said.  “We need to work together.”

After graffiti was sprayed on a wall at the MLK Center last fall, she gathered people for courageous conversations, to share life stories, hopes and frustrations, and to listen to one another.

“We each need to do more to address racism and division.  Many let anger and fear divide us,” she said.

Martin Luther King Jr Day marchers 2018

She has joined in community conversation about solutions, moving from racism to gracism, from poverty to opportunity, from divisiveness to unity, she said.

“We need to be kind and caring.  Anger and hostility increase divisiveness, shootings, suicides and bullying.  We need to be part of healing the community and broken hearts. We need commitment to civility. Take someone who disagrees with you to coffee,” she said.

Cathy plans to travel with a Congressional Human Rights March to Memphis, Selma and the Dexter Ave. Church to learn more about the history of the Civil Rights movement.

Freda then challenged those who yelled at Cathy to use their “single most important nonviolent weapon,” their right to vote. 

“If you want to get something done, Vote!  It is not the time to yell and scream during this rally where people have come to pay respect to Dr. King,” she said.

Martin Luther King Day marchers

Her words were followed by a speech by Stephy Nobles-Beans of Whitworth (see page 10).

Then Happy Watkins, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, presented Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, given in 1963 at Washington, D.C.

“It’s not where we stand in times of comfort, but in times of challenge and controversy,” he reminded. “We have conquered space but have not learned to live together on earth.”

He recited MLK’s dream for the nation to live its creed of equality and for the sons of former slaves and former slave owners to sit together “at the table of brotherhood.”

The dream calls for:

• places of oppression to be transformed into oases of freedom and justice;

• children to live in a nation where they are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character;

• black boys and girls to join hands with white boys and girls;

• the low to be made high and the high made low;

• for all God’s children to sing with new meaning: “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty….from every mountainside let freedom ring!”

As Happy listed hills, molehills and mountainsides from which freedom should ring, he added, “Let freedom ring from Trump Tower in New York City.

“When that happens, all God’s children, black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will 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!”

Grant Elementary School Drummers and Dancers at MLK Day March and Rally

 

For information, call 455-8722.





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