Frigid temperatures didn’t deter hundreds of people from gathering to march in celebration of the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Dayton on Monday.
“I think it’s important to be out here because in the absence of love hate prevails so people are coming together right now across differences of race, gender, class, age and sexual orientation to really show that we are a community, that we are all human beings and we all have inherent dignity and worth and rights,” said Amaha Sellassie, a board member of MLK Dayton. “Today is a day to stand up and show that we’re in this together.”
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Marchers started near The Charles Drew Health Center on West Third Street and ended at the Dayton Convention Center, where they heard from Rev. Jeremiah Lewis during a free event. It was a cold, wet march, with a few inches of snow falling over the weekend and temperatures dipping below zero early Monday.
Marcher Sarah Banks said she was surprised to see how many people came out to participate on Monday despite the freezing cold weather.
Banks said she is unfamiliar with a lot of the struggles faced by the African-American community because her family was well-off but she felt like she needed to do her part and devote time to march Monday. The theme of Monday’s celebration, “Justice For All,” was part of what drove Banks to brave the cold.
“I feel like we’ve come a long way in America …But, I feel like we have a long way to go still,” Banks said. “I just feel like this is something I can contribute. It’s not much but its something I can do.”
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Monday’s march came less than a year after the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination in April 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., which was marked last year by a number of events in Dayton and around the country.
Absent from Monday’s MLK Dayton march were more political signs such as ones reading “Black Lives Matter” and others featuring the image of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick that were displayed by marchers in previous years. But, issues of police brutality and other social justice issues were top of mind for marchers, including New Carlisle Mayor Ethan Reynolds.
As mayor, Reynolds said he supports police wearing body cameras because whether its officers or citizens who are called into question, the device, “keeps them honest.” This year marked Reynolds’ eighth year marching in the annual event.
“I think its super important to be out here today,” Reynolds said. “It’s all about community and relationships and building a part of the community.”
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