Hundreds honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through marching, volunteering
Today would have been the 85th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who spent a lifetime fighting for the equality of all people. King addressed a quarter of a million people at the Lincoln Memorial in August of 1963, sharing his dream at the historic "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" event. One year later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law banned racial segregation in public places and discrimination in the workplace. It also guaranteed every citizen's right to vote, regardless of race.
Now a new generation is stepping up to take on Dr. King's dream. Speakers and organizers of a march down Capitol Boulevard in Boise were decidedly youthful. There was a new generation learning at an early age the importance of Dr. King’s message; a message which, at its heart, beats the golden rule.
The pursuit of basic human rights for everyone has been a continuous battle both in the U.S. and in Idaho. Hundreds braved the snow and icy temperatures to be heard and to honor the legacy of Dr. King. "It was snowing. It was really coming down too, but everyone kept on going," said Milaun Danclar, the chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Living Legacy Committee.
"I think the main teaching that Dr. King had is to love and treat everyone as you would want to be treated," said Danclar. A freshman at BSU, she sees MLK, Jr. Day as another opportunity to bring people together. "We have to fight for others. We can't just fight for the situations we believe in. We have to fight for the situations others believe in as well."
A rally speaker said, "Many people right now are going hungry, sleeping in the streets. Many people are afraid to come out of the shadows because of fear of being deported. Many people are unable to marry the person they love. Many families are being separated. Many are unable to get the basic healthcare they need.” There’s a long list of social ills still need considerable attention. But as the march goes on, so does the determination that the dream will someday be realized.
The march and rally weren't the only events honoring Dr. King. Monday was also Human Rights Day in Idaho; the day people pay tribute to King's support of community volunteering. Hundreds turned out at the Idaho Food Bank, stuffing backpacks with food for kids who would otherwise go hungry.
"We have a small staff. We run lean and mean and we really appreciate all the help we get from volunteers. They're the ones who make it happen for us and they help us out so much to be able to [do] everything we do to help feed hungry people," said Teena Wright of the Idaho Food Bank.
Each backpack contains enough food to get kids through the weekend. On Monday volunteers helped fill nearly 4,000 backpacks. The food bank hands out 2,000 backpacks to kids every week.