On an overcast morning, thousands gathered Monday to shine light on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the annual march through downtown Springfield.
Beginning at Mediacom Ice Park, marches traveled north over the Benton Ave bridge that bears the Civil Rights leader’s name, and then south on Jefferson Ave before finishing with a program at the Gillioz Theater.
This year’s theme was “Your Life Your Choice: Our Voices Matter.”
Throughout the march, participants sang songs including “This Little Light of Mine,” and many displayed famous quotes by MLK. “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear” and “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” were among the signs held by both children and adults of different ethnic backgrounds. Signs not depicting King’s quotes read “Black Lives Matter” and “Protect the Right to Vote,” among others.
In its news release prior to the event, the Springfield NAACP says it “will continue to promote economic and social justice in our community.”
The event was sponsored by the local NAACP chapter, in conjunction with co-sponsors Central Bank of the Ozarks, Springfield Public Schools, Oke-Thomas & Associates, Drury University, Matthew Project 25, First Unitarian Universalist Church, City of Springfield’s Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights, Big Momma’s, and Pitts Chapel.
At the Gillioz, spectators were offered performances by Missouri State University’s student poetry group “Untamed Tongues,” as well as the school’s Multi-Cultural Ensemble. There was also a presentation by the youth step group “Swag,” and interpretative dance by Olivia Goings (NAACP Youth Member).