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O'Neal Saunders, second from right, and Tyrell Carter, right, lead the Martin Luther King Day silent march through the Ohio University gate on Jan. 20, 2020.

Annual march commemorates life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The cold breeze blew into Helen Mauck Galbreath Memorial Chapel as dozens filed into the small church. Despite snowflakes falling down and chilling temperatures, many people showed up to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy.

The MLK March started at Ohio University a year after King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. Twenty years ago, a special brunch was added to take place after the march. 

Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers held the doors open, greeting attendees as they prepared for the march. As the clock struck 10:30 a.m., Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers gathered around the church podium while Tyrone Carr, co-chair of the Celebratory MLK Committee, introduced Reverend Evan Young of the United Campus Ministry to give a prayer.

“However long, however difficult the road is, there is an end. There is a destination that is better, more whole and more holy than this place,” Young said. “And we know today in this group that there are many who continue on that path with us.”

After the prayer was given, the Alpha Phi Alpha brothers filed outside the church and lined up, preparing for the march to begin. 

Earl Hopkins, a recent OU graduate and previous Alpha Phi Alpha president, spoke about the turnout this year and how important it is to partake in the event.

“It's really an important day just to commemorate our fraternal brother, Martin Luther King Jr. Like some of the things that he implemented in our society (are) still carrying today,” Hopkins said. “So it's more of, like, any day. It's a celebration of his accomplishments to society, civilization, other things of that nature. We just want other people to partake in that celebration along with us.”

Hopkins has taken part in the march before. This year, he came back to support his fraternal brothers.

“You can really see how important it is to the Athens community and even on a larger scale how other people in the world see this day,” Hopkins said.

After the fraternity brothers lined up outside, others followed behind, marching across College Green and then making a left onto Court Street toward Baker Center.

Alicia Lundy-Morse, a senior studying urban and regional planning, participated for the first time in the march and spoke of why she came out today to celebrate King.

“I'm in Student Senate, and we'd like to go to these type of things to support the organizations that host them,” Lundy-Morse said.

After arriving at Baker Center, many people congregated in the lobby and started making their way to the brunch ,which was set to take place at 11 a.m. in Baker Ballroom.

Although the attendance for the march was great, some believe there is still work to be done.

Kalvin DaRonne Harvell, professor of sociology at Henry Ford College, was the keynote speaker of the event and spoke about why it is still important to journey forward and continue King’s work.

“One of the most important things that Dr. King talked about later on (in) his life is of the two Americans, which means that it's important to celebrate him, so we can be attentive to the fact there's still unfinished business in terms of his dream,” Harvell, coordinator of the Black Male and Queens Focus Group at Henry Ford College, said. “A lot of people assume that the journey was complete on April 4, 1968, because King was assassinated. But he himself said, ‘I may not get there with you, but we as a people will get to the promised land.’”


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