BALTIMORE – “I think Dr. King would have been very upset about this Enron scandal,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as he joined thousands in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. parade along the avenue named for the martyred civil rights leader.

Cummings, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is one of a handful of lawmakers on Capitol Hill who received no campaign contributions from Enron, the Houston-based energy giant that went bankrupt last November.

“King was a leader who constantly warned us against allowing big business to dominate government overriding the will of the people,” Cummings told the World. “This march is symbolic of the fact that Dr. King’s dream is still alive. We haven’t reached all the goals he fought for but this march reminds us that it is a daily struggle to achieve equality.”

Maryland Attorney General Joe Curran also joined the march. “I don’t know how Dr. King would have reacted to the Enron debacle,” Curran said. “But I know how I feel about it. I’m not happy. A lot of people got hurt. This is an important day. We honor Washington and Lincoln but Rev. Martin Luther King is the only leader in my lifetime who achieved such greatness that he deserves this national holiday.”

Thousands of school children, marching bands and labor and community groups turned out. The newly founded Baltimore Anti-War Coalition (BAWC) marched beneath colorful papier mache puppets depicting the multiracial unity that King struggled for. One marcher carried a placard with an incisive quote from King: “We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

“Some folks like to look at Dr. King’s legacy as a civil rights leader,” BAWC leader Max Obuszewski said. “But Dr. King broadened the struggle when he came out against the Vietnam war in his Riverside Church speech. He was working to organize the Poor People’s March on Washington for economic justice when he was assassinated.”

Amber Amundsen, whose husband died in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, spoke at a peace movement Jan. 19 news conference in Raleigh, N.C., which Obuszewski attended.

“She said the victims of Sept. 11 do not want vengeance. They want justice,” Obuszewski said. “Some are in Afghanistan right now meeting with families who lost loved ones in the U.S. bombing. Afghanistan is ‘ground zero’ too.”

Tina Wheeler, head of the Maryland Communist Party, said, “It is important to keep the dream alive and to stand up against the very thing that poisons our country, which is war. If Dr. King were alive today, he would be marching for peace, against racism and militarism.”

Baltimore Women in Black, modeled on the Israeli-Palestinian women’s group, marched with signs in English, Arabic and Hebrew: “Peace,” “Shalom” and “Salaam.”

Said Betsy Cunningham, a spokesperson for the group, “The situation in Palestine and Israel is horrific. Every day more and more innocent people are dying. Dr. King worked for peace among all peoples and nations. It is going to take women like us working from the grassroots to reach out and end the cycle of violence.”

– Special to the World

SEATTLE – With over 1,500 participants, the teach-ins, rally and march commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday here was second only in size to the one held in Atlanta, Georgia. This year’s theme was, “Jobs, Justice, Peace in the aftermath of 9/11.”

Jeff Siddiqui, a Muslim-American, spoke about what he felt he needed to say to his wife and children after 9/11. “Your friends and neighbors may treat you differently and call you names now,” he told his children. “Some night, I may not be coming home,” he told his wife, referring to the fact that he could be detained by FBI agents. He went on to say how this is the first time he has really felt targeted due to his race. Siddiqui, after being targeted for the first time because of his race, said he now understands what is like to be Black in the United States

Arelene Oki, a vice president of the Seattle Chapter of the Japanese-American Citizens League, spoke on the similarity of internment for Japanese-Americans during WWII and the rounding up of over 1,000 men of Arab and Muslim background. “It wasn’t right to do it then, and it sure isn’t right to do it now,” she said.

– – Todd Tollefson

ST. LOUIS – The Annual Martin Luther King Day Parade got a jumpstart this year. A coalition of over 30 organizations held a “spirited” pre-rally on the steps of the Old Courthouse. The need for a Civilian Review Board in the police department was a major concern. About 400 people chanted, “Pass Board Bill 71,” legislation calling for a civilian review board.

Dorothy Gillis, of the Farm Labor organizing Committee (FLOC), reminded the demonstrators of the 3,000 North Carolina farm workers struggling for union representation and the boycott of Mt. Olive pickles. Many speakers called for a stop to the war being waged on the people of Afghanistan. One speaker said, “Dropping bombs does not create peace!”

Erin Quick, of the Community for Non-violent Social Action, said she was protesting “because Dr. King advocated non-violence. And we are dedicated to non-violence. If Dr. King was alive today he would not support the war on Afghanistan.”

– – Tony Pecinovsky