MLK remembered across Dayton and the nation

Marching, singing and chanting in gently falling snow, hundreds of residents took to a blocked-off section of West Third Street on Monday afternoon to remember the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of justice.

The traditional march on the Third Street bridge, which is being renovated, has not happened in a couple of years. Participants Monday instead walked east from the Drew Health Center on Third Street, turning right before Edwin C. Moses Blvd. and gathering at a nearby park.

Joe Abrams, a Dayton resident, called the day the “best American holiday.”

“It’s an important tradition, and I think it’s important to keep it up,” Abrams said. “It’s important for the community to come together, and to remember (King’s) spirit of equality, unity and people.”

Kema Brown, a Dayton resident, said this event was her second MLK Day march in Dayton. She marched last year with her daughter, who died in July after a battle with cancer.

“Now I’m picking up the slack for her,” Brown said. “It’s my turn. It felt so good last year, and it feels good this year.

“I wanted to continue on with the legacy,” she added. “I love Martin Luther King.”

The march historically has crossed the Third Street bridge over the Great Miami River, also called the “Peace Bridge” as recognition of its role on that day. But a $16 million replacement/renovation project altered the route in January 2020 and on Monday. The bridge is scheduled to reopen in October this year.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

King was remembered across the nation, with marches and rallies in many major cities.

“Following recent division and the violent assault on our Capitol, Dr. King’s message of hope and peace is one we must reflect on and work to uphold,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, tweeted Monday.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown was scheduled to deliver keynote remarks at the Dayton Unit NAACP’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday evening.

“Dr. King moved mountains with his words,” Brown said on Twitter on Monday.

In a video posted on Twitter, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said King’s legacy “lives on in the hearts and souls of every person around the world committed to working toward a more just future.”

Portman observed that MLK Day is also the only federal holiday that is designated a “national day of service,” set aside to “encourage people to volunteer their time to help their community.”

Said Portman: “As Dr. King knew, many of the problems we face will be solved in our communities, in our families and ultimately in our hearts.”

A Martin Luther King Jr. event hosted by Sinclair Community College brought together more than 260 participants virtually.

“I hope this is the first and last time we have to do this by Zooming,” said Steven Johnson, Sinclair president.

Introducing some 30 minutes of poetry and music, Furaha Henry-Jones, Sinclair’s poet laureate and an English professor, told participants that King “was asking tough questions.”

“He asked these difficult questions and more. He provided answers that, as a nation, we haven’t wanted to hear,” she said.

In the wake of the violence in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, Henry-Jones said she has heard the phrase “This is not America” many times.

“My friends, my brothers and sisters, this is America,” she said. “But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

The program closed with a “virtual” march.

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