On Monday the Ashland community gathered to acknowledge the importance of Martin Luther King Jr., otherwise known as “MLK Day.” The event began at the Historic Ashland Armory at noon, followed by a march to Lithia Park. Since this event has been consistently popular for 27 years, getting into the Armory is known to be rather difficult as seating is limited. Those who showed up early enough to get inside were able to witness a variety of keynote speakers including UNIVERSES, a theater oriented group of men and women who perform using lyrical poetry and dance to convey their message. The emcee for the event, D.L. Richardson spoke about the importance of community involvement. “History makes the community realize that we can do something, and then it’s up to us to take action,” he said.
Around 2pm people gathered outside of the armory to distribute posters and decide what route was to be taken to get to Lithia Park. Many children ran around sporting T-shirts with the face of MLK. Even dogs were coming to march. Posters were being handed out that displayed messages of love and equality. Once the march reached downtown the crowd was encouraged to sing along with the Rogue Valley Peace Choir.
Geneva Craig was one of the thousands of people who got to witness the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. She spoke briefly of the experience that day.
“You know that first time we went to that bridge they really beat us good. And then we went back the second time and Dr. King said, ‘let’s go back.’ Being the teenager I really believed in ‘The Man’. The third time we had the protection we needed to make it safely to Montgomery. As we walked I thought about what we sang.”
Craig continued to chant phrases and after every phrase the crowd was told to chant back saying “you’re right, you’re right.” When the crowd’s excitement grew she explained how it was their mission at the time to get to the capital in time to hear Dr. King speak without being terrorized by civilians or police.
Following Craig’s talk the “I Have a Dream” speech played through the speakers. There was a sign language interpreter for the speech as well.
“It was such a powerful event,” said Makayla Hoy, a freshman at Southern Oregon University. Heart forward everyone. Love is life, equality is life. Let the awakening begin now through inspiration, music, love and community.”