“We Shall Overcome” echoed through the streets of Tallahassee from the voices of the community Monday, as the Martin Luther King Jr. March came to an end.
The day began with the commemoration of Reverend Charles Kenzie Steele, Sr. Steele was a civil activist and preacher, who in 1956 organized a bus boycott in Tallahassee, after two college students were arrested for sitting on the bus in a “white only” section.
Pastor Calvin McFadden of Community of Faith Church shared words of inspiration about the legacy Steele and King left behind before the march.
“Many of you should ask yourself, am I keeping the dream alive?” McFadden said.
He challenged the crowd to keep the dream alive by having hope, answering the call of helping others and not forgetting to bring the one (God) who brought us over.
Although Steele is widely respected and admired, many campus organizations and others arrived around 9 a.m. to show respect for the contributions made by King.
“We feel that the day is an opportunity for people to show their appreciation to the late Dr. MLK Jr.,” said Dick Daly, 23, a senior graphic design student.
Daly added that the “least we can do is come together and remember all that he has done and sacrificed.”
For the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. the celebration reminded them of one of their own.
“While this day and individual is important, as he (MLK) is a brother in our organization, we spread the word that we should cherish and celebrate our history on a random Wednesday next week, or Sunday next year,” Sean Villery-Samuel said.
Samuel, 24, a graduating business administration student, said that we seldom come together to recall our history.
Miss Phi Beta Sigma said the Alpha Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. members were present to show their commitment to service.
“Dr. King’s dream lives on through these men and is evident not just on January 16th, but everyday,” said Rachel Melson, 20, a junior business administration student. The Dayton, Ohio native explained ” we give thanks for the past and are shaping the future.”
Despite heavy attendance from fraternities and other organizations, many students who were not in groups came to remember the day.
“Somebody got up before me to have me to get to where I am, so why can’t I get up to show them respect on their day,” said Berline Thenor, 21.
Thenor, a sophomore psychology and public relations student, said she decided to wake up in the cold weather because she felt that she owed those who sacrificed to make changes.
“With the things that our people endured through the civil rights movement and all the hard times before, the least I could do is wake up to show some appreciation,” said Zedrick Barber II. Barber, 19, a freshman computer information systems student and his friend Jared Fields shared similar feelings.
“I feel that we as proud free African-Americans can wake up to attend an event that is in honor of him,” said Fields, 20, a sophomore economics student from Rivera Beach. He hopes that others will get up in the future and come out to show their respect for King.
After the march to the Florida State Capitol the Tallahassee Girls Choir of Choice, Tallahassee Boys Choir and Bethel AME Church Choir performed a series of selections. The events were structured around the theme of embracing the past and acknowledging heroes of the struggle.
Contact Sarah Chester at firstname.lastname@example.org