Rally speakers, marchers' signs carry King's message and mission
More than 3,000 marched for freedom, justice and equality on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In the rally that preceded it in the Spokane Convention Center, thousands listened to speakers remind them why they were walking.
Spokane Mayor David Condon said that the day honors the life and legacy of King, who inspired peaceful change as he called for freedom, equality and integrity.
In marching to promote justice and move beyond racism, he said, "We cannot walk alone. Across the city, state and nation, it's a day of service to give thanks for how far we have come since segregation.
"We need to commit to justice, with equality and integrity for all as we march," David said, recognizing the city is not immune to racism and bigotry, but that change "comes through continued struggle.
"We need to be allies because people continue to face prejudice," he said, announcing that the city has a new supportive employment ordinance for people with disabilities. "We need to embrace all citizens.
"Every day is a 'day on' to support those who are marginalized and victimized," David said. "We need to continue to live King's principles of all working together for humankind."
City Council President Ben Stuckart spoke by video, celebrating local civil rights heroes—Freda Gandy, Happy Watkins, Sandy Williams and Kurtis Robinson, leaders of I Did Time and the NAACP working to reduce inequities in the criminal justice system.
Feruz Tikue, a sixth grader at Grant Elementary School, read Grant's Dream, written by the schools Associated Student Body Cabinet. The dream includes:
• All people learn each day.
• All being kind and compassionate.
• Not giving up in face of ostracism.
• All having the opportunity to learn.
• Everyone appreciating others.
• All being respectful and kind.
• Helping everyone in need.
• Standing up for rights.
Kurtis Robinson, president of Spokane's NAACP, said 2019 is the 100th birthday for the local chapter.
"We will look at what it took to get here. We did not get here alone," he said.
"The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People includes all of us. We are for the advancement of all of us," he said, announcing that the year will be time to honor the lives and legacies of people who gave their lives and time for freedom.
There will be trainings and workshops, such as on "Why Race Matters" and on the "Bail Project."
Commenting on the "uprising" of women being elected in 2018, Kurtis said that King and civil rights leaders "took us so far along the long road, but we have a long way to go. King encouraged us to be steady and tenacious."
He reminded of King's words that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Stephy Nobles Beans of Whitworth University reminded those gathered that King was first a minister, then a messenger and then a man who had impact on the world.
"Growing up in the civil rights era, I will never forget the man who made the world a better place," she said, singing, "Won't let nobody turn me around," and adding that "today, we still refuse to turn around. We are united as hundreds, thousands and millions march.
"There is much to be done. We all can be great. We all can serve by what we do to help others, to make a different community, to assure all are equal and to protect the earth.
"We need to keep moving toward others, to be neighbors," she said, quoting Joe Wittwer's sermon.
Stephy uplifted five points of unity:
• King's dream holds true that all men and women are created equal and are to be treated with dignity and respect.
• His dream includes celebrating all cultures. It's not a black thing or a white thing. It's a Jesus thing that all are to live together as brothers and sisters or "perish as fools."
• His dream is about investing in the future of young people to have an equal playing field so they can be successful. "Justice plus equality equals success. We can't let them down," she said.
• The time is always right to do what is right. The time is now to come together in unity, harmony and love.
• There is power in numbers. "We may have differences and disagree, but we can come together to have impact by doing what is right," said Stephy.
"So I say—she began singing: 'We have overcome. We have overcome. We have overcome, today."
The Rev. Happy Watkins, pastor emeritus of New Hope Baptist Church, thanked everyone in the community for their love and for working to "make a difference until making a difference don't make no difference anymore."
He recited the words of King's "I Have a Dream" speech as he has for many years in many community groups, adding a change in saying "Let freedom ring," from the mountains of New York, the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, from Trump Towers in Manhattan and Moscow. "From every mountainside, let freedom ring."
He reminded that "the dream is rooted in the American dream," and expressed hope that "one day the nation will rise up and live the truth that all are created equal."
Happy concluded with the promise that one day all will be free and all of God's children will sing with new meaning, "My Country 'Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty," and all God's children, black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, Democrats and Republicans will live together in unity."
For information, call 868-8056 or visit mlkspokane.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, Febvruary, 2019