By Yamilex Garcia and Omar Quintana
On Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, the Tucson Community joined hearts as they commemorated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a march that began at the University of Arizona Bio Tech Park (on Kino Parkway) and ending at Reid Park. Among the marchers included several Pueblo students and staff members.
Despite temperatures in the very cool 40’s and 50’s and occasional rain, thousands of Tucsonans endured the three miles of the march.
One participant, Pueblo senior Corina Ballesteros, said that she has always been impassioned by King’s life—as well as his legacy.
“King would have loved what we all did on the march,” Ballesteros said. “His life still continues to resonate all of the original qualities that made him such an icon—for all people. He will always symbolize unity and peace, and that is something that we should never lose sight of, especially in our splintered country.”
Another Warrior student, senior Vanessa Mendez, said that this was her first time marching for anybody.
“I was very surprised how many people were involved in this [MLK] march,” Mendez said. “I felt empowered marching because of the vibrant environment.”
She paused and said, “There are still people out there who believe that King does not merit a holiday,” Mendez said. “I recently learned that Arizona was the last state to approve the King holiday back in the 1980s. However, King definitely deserves to be recognized. Next year, this event will be especially moving because it will mark the 50th Anniversary of King’s death. I am already committed to marching—and bringing along a lot of my friends with me.”
Not all was docile during the march. Many of the participants voiced their concerns regarding several issues including: police brutality; the “Jobs for Justice” movement; and racial profiling. Many of the marchers also protested against President-elect Trump, five days prior to his inauguration.
Food was available at the end of the march, and the marchers enjoyed the live jazz musicians.
The sun broke away from the clouds…
Ballesteros said, “President Obama’s farewell speech was playing at the park. I think that a lot of us were already missing Obama—even though he was still officially the president when the march occurred—especially considering what president we’ll have next…”
Mendez said, “Through this march, I learned that I have a civic duty to perform—as an American. I believe in the democratic process, and I wholeheartedly believe in the First Amendment, which is my right to express my voice, peaceably.” She paused and said, “I think King would be proud of all of us today.”
Both students were photographed with Congressman Raul Grijalva at the end of the march, at Reid Park.