From Houston, Des Moines, Portland, Ore., Lansing, Mich., and Montpelier, Vt., thousands of people gathered in cities and towns Jan. 18-20 weekend for peace, equality and to honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here are a few highlights.
SAN ANTONIO, Tex.: 50,000 honor King, peace and equality
Over 50,000 people of all ages and races participated in the Martin Luther King Day march and rally. The march’s theme “struggle for peace through non-violence,” drew several contingents protesting plans for a war with Iraq, adding militancy and numbers to the annual event.
Frank Valdez, a social worker, told the World, “I’m here with my family to take a stand against war and the racist policies George Bush is using to advance his agenda.”
Mika de Leon, a high school student, said in Spanish that the march was a way for her to “struggle and support people of color.”
United Farm Workers Union organizer Jaime Martinez reminded the rally of King’s support for workers, lending his support to striking Memphis sanitation workers, shortly before he was assassinated.
30,000 walk for King, protest war
Denver remembered Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 20, recalling his historic struggle for equality and peace in a rally and march dominated by an unmistakable undercurrent – the looming war with Iraq.
The crowd, of all ages and colors, was estimated at 30,000. Parents walked with their children in strollers and wagons. A few people had their dogs in tow. They carried placards and portraits of King chanting, “Peace now” and “Human rights.”
King’s widow urges peace
King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, addressed a crowd of about 1,000 on Jan. 20 at King’s former pulpit, Ebenezer Baptist Church, calling on world leaders to settle their differences peacefully.
King told the congregation, “May [Martin’s] challenge and his example guide and inspire us to seek peaceful alternatives to a war with Iraq and military conflict in the Middle East.”
Atlanta’s annual King Day march – one of the largest in the nation – also included anti-war protests with some marchers carrying signs that read: “Drop Bush, not bombs.”
4,000 tell Bush ‘No War’
They came from all parts of New Mexico, Jan. 18, to converge with one message: “No War With Iraq!” In blazing sunshine, the crowd swelled to 4,000 the largest peace gathering since the Vietnam War. Small business owner Anna Puma said, “I have seven children, and I don’t want them to inherit a war, bloodshed and confusion. I want a world with peace. I want our leaders to be able to sit down at a table and negotiate.”
TUCSON, Ariz.: Congressman promises to carry ‘no war’ message
Over 5,000 Arizonans expressed their disgust at the Bush administration’s war plans for Iraq. Arizonans drove hundreds of miles, some from as far away as Yuma and Flagstaff. Southern Arizona’s newly elected Congressman Raul Grijalva (D) promised to carry the marchers’ message to Washington.
STANFORD U., Calif.:
Campus anti-war protest
Approximately 400 anti-war demonstrators gathered to oppose George W. Bush’s plans for a war on Iraq. Sponsored by a broad coalition of student and campus organizations, it was one of the largest protests in years.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.:
Heart of Silicon Valley rallies for peace
A newly-elected city council member joined more than 500 people in the first anti-war march and rally in decades. The march was organized by two high school students concerned with the increasing presence of army recruiters at their school.
ROLLA, Missouri: Honking for peace
About 80 people gathered at the main intersection, Jan. 19, holding signs that read, “Peace is patriotic,” “No war for oil” “Give peace a chance.” Children, parents, retirees, college professors, students and workers participated. Most drivers honked and gave peace signs for support. But, there were some inappropriate hand signs of disapproval.
LOUISVILLE, Ky.: No to police brutality
Dr. King was remembered with a parade and religious services. There also was a demonstration protesting a shooting here last month of a handcuffed Black man by a white police officer.
LAS VEGAS, Nev.: ‘Elvis hates war’
500 protesters gathered on the famed Strip, where one sign read, “Elvis hates war.” Sponsored by a loose coalition of organizations the demonstrators marched, Jan. 18, from the Bellagio hotel to the MGM Grand.
SOUTH BEND, Ind.: Concert for peace
More than 450 people met for a Concert for Peace, Jan. 18, at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and stand against the war. The concert featured local folk singers, church choirs and musicians including the children’s choir of St. Joseph’s Parish, the predominantly African American St. Paul’s Bethel Baptist Choir, and the Coro Celestial of the mostly Mexican American St. Steven’s Catholic Parish.
Continuing MLK peace tradition
George Bush’s war drive turned the Jan. 18 Martin Luther King birthday parade into a living expression of the people’s demand for peace. The Committee for Peace in Iraq joined labor, environment, and religious groups in the Jobs with Justice contingent of the parade – some 200 strong chanted, “Dr. King said no to war – That is what we’re marching for!”
LOS ANGELES, Calif.:
150,000 honor King
150,000 joined Gov. Gray Davis and mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco in a march to honor Dr. King.
SEATTLE, Wash.: 15,000 march:
‘Support the poor, stop the war.’
Some 15,000 people marched to the Federal Building in downtown Seattle under the slogan, “Support the poor, stop the war.” Gatherings, large and small, took place all around the state including thousands in Tacoma and Bellevue. Hundreds of small peace potlucks were held around Puget Sound. Over 70 people from the rural Roslyn/Cle Elum communities marched.
On MLK Jr. Day 3,200 pray for peace
“We can still stop this war” was the theme at Washington’s National Cathedral. An estimated 3,200 people gathered to pray for a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis. Afterward, worshipers marched to the White House with “War Is Not the Answer” placards.
Thanks to Jarg Peter,
Susan Delventhal, Emil Shaw,
Joe Bernick, Roberto Botello, Jim Lane,
John Pappademos and Marc Brodine who contributed to these stories.