Community, Springfield

Marching for Martin Luther King Jr.

Participants join in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Springfield. Jen Blue/The Chronicle

SPRINGFIELD – In his ”Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. said, ”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
This quote was the theme of Springfield’s 22nd Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. The event started with a march from the Justice Center to Springfield High School (SHS), where the program and student contest took place.
”We all have a role to play to interrupt injustice,” SHS Principal José da Silva said. ”What happens to one of us happens to all of us.”
The program included musical performances from Two Rivers Elementary School, A3’s Jazz Choir and SHS Mariachi del Sol, with a welcome address from Eric Richardson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Richardson said MLK Jr. Day is a holiday of spirit and soul, which unites all human beings. He added that Black people are a mirror of America.
”What we want, represent and endure is what America is,” he said. ”If we Black folks perish, America perishes.”
The program continued by honoring those who participated in the high school speech contest awards. Topics of speeches included poverty, climate change, homelessness, systemic racism, immigration, wealth disparity and LGBTQ discrimination.
First place went to Danger Adams with her speech on climate change and second place went to Wednesday Adams for her speech on wealth disparity. Both A3 high school students had the opportunity to read their speeches to the crowd; each speech incorporated a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., and used his teachings to illuminate their topic.
”It’s not robbery; it’s justice,” Wednesday Adams said about adjusting the minimum wage for inflation and taxing the 1% wealthiest individuals.
Danger Adams said that, ”Global warming is the greatest injustice everywhere” and that it affects everyone directly.
Students from fourth grade through 12th grade were also awarded in a variety of categories, including art, essay, poetry, poster, video, letter and photography.
The program also awarded the Springfield Alliance for Equality and Respect (SAfER) Human Rights Leadership Award to Dr. Leilani Sabzalian for her focus on creating spaces to support Indigenous students. Sabzalian is an assistant professor of Indigenous Studies in Education and the Co-Director of the Sapsik’wałá Teacher Education Program at the University of Oregon.



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