Galbreath Chapel was filled with people Monday morning before the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Silent March, despite the freezing temperatures outdoors.
“A lot of people (asked if) the march was going to be cancelled because it was so cold,” Tyrone Carr, special assistant to the vice president for diversity and inclusion, said. “It was cancelled once since it started in the mid-70’s because of the weather, but we are here today, and it's a fabulous turnout.”
Dozens of people turned out to march, and some came with signs to show solidarity and unity. One sign read, “Honor each other, all is one.”
Amritjit Singh, the Langston Hughes professor of English and African American studies, also spoke at the event. Singh talked about how the word “diversity” has become a buzzword.
“Diversity has come to signify to me inclusion of people in the past that have been left out,” Singh said in his speech.
He also pointed out that people in higher authority positions need to listen to and respect the opinions of others. Singh also mentioned he believes the university is not listening and respecting others’ opinions.
“I think unfortunately even the university neglects what is going on,” Singh said.
Singh then went on to read the poem “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes, which emphasizes a dream for equality and freedom for minority groups.
“We are all a part of this dream,” Singh said after reading the poem.
Yohannes Berhane, a senior and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the fraternity that sponsored the event, led a prayer before the march. In it, he mentioned honoring the legacy of King, coming together and unity.
Berhane mentioned in the prayer how people were able to enjoy each other’s presence and simply be humans together at the event.
Once the march started, people started linking arms as a sign of unity. The group marched across College Green and up Court Street to Baker Center.
Tee Ford-Ahmed, an Athens resident, had returned from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. the day before.
“You might say I’m in marching mode,” Ford-Ahmed said.
Ford-Ahmed decided she wanted to march despite the freezing temperatures because she wanted to honor an American hero.
“I don't think cold or hot or any kind of weather has anything to do with honoring a hero,” Ford-Ahmed said.
Mindy Cisneros and her nephew also joined in on the march. Cisneros recently adopted her nephew and wanted him to experience the different cultural events in Athens.
Events like the march are important because it “carries the torch” for the legacy of King for future generations, Cisneros said.
“I recently adopted my nephew, and I want him to embrace his roots and be a part of the different communities here in Athens,” Cisneros said. “Since he has been here two months now, this was the first event I felt like he was passionate about attending, so I wanted to make sure we got out to support everyone in this community.”