In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students from BC attended the 34th annual MLK Jr. Celebration Rally and March, which is traditionally held at Garfield High School. On Monday, Jan. 18, ASG Vice President of Student Affairs and Pluralism Sasha Lee, accompanied by her friends Scott McDonald and BC Association of Veterans Coordinator Evan Bowman joined fellow Washingtonians on a day of workshops, keynote speeches and spoken word performances. Starting at Garfield High, the attendees marched to the Jackson Federal Building.
Although MLK day is dedicated to celebrate the fight for civil rights, the march also brought people to discuss other current issues. “It wasn’t just about race,” explained Lee, “You had people coming out and talking about socialism and religious freedom. They were talking about the 1 percent versus the 99 percent.” For Lee, the march gave her a better understanding of what diversity and pluralism meant. “Diversity is going beyond race and ethnicity,” said Lee, “It was like your thoughts on the political system, thoughts on the economic system, it’s your ideologies that come out of what culture you represent or identify as.”
Lee believes the march was an opportunity for people to not only talk about race, but also on the underlying issues that everyone shared. “Historically, they have always made it a race game, distracting someone with hateful race rhetoric and not focusing on the real issues at hand like the structures and systems that we live in,” explained Lee. “Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting in the name for all people and all classes.”
“I did expect a lot more people to be playing music that really represented what the movement was about,” said Lee about the different events at the march. The march ended with a spoken word performance. “Young men and women went up and presented their pieces. That was a lot better than what I expected,” said Lee.
Garfield High School was the starting point for the march because it was chosen by Dr. King as the location in the Pacific Northwest where people can discuss civil rights issues. “It’s an opportunity for people to walk down history and experience what Dr. King fought for,” explained Bobby Alexander, Chair of Seattle’s MLK Celebration Committee. The march celebrates the fight to have the MLK holiday and the struggle to get a street in Washington named after Dr. King.
For Alexander, the fight for equality is not over. “We need to have discussions about the disciplinary gap that we have at schools,” explained Alexander, “You’re taught from a very young age that that’s how you play the game. It starts in our schools and is perpetuated in the court system.”
Although this year BC did not coordinate an official trip to the MLK march, Lee hopes that more students can attend in the future. “It was interracial, intergenerational, and absolutely fantastic,” remarked Lee.