Students, Huntington residents march, remember MLK Jr.


courtesy of Isabella Robinson

Leif Olson, a Marshall graduate student, participates in the Martin Luther King Jr. March, Monday, Jan. 20.

Chants of passion and remembrance filled the Huntington streets as residents took part in the Martin Luther King Jr. March to honor the late activist while looking to the future. 

“The march is symbolism of togetherness and unity and everybody being on one accord, pulling the same string and looking for the same things,” Delegate to the 16th Circuit Sean Hornbuckle said. “Hopefully that’s equality, civil rights, economic equality and all those good things. The march is a visual reminder, not just to have a celebration. When you see it, it makes you stop and think, hopefully, ‘What can I do to better mankind?’”

The march took place between the 16th Street Baptist Church and came to a halt at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards Playhouse on Fifth Avenue. Participants were encouraged to chant along, carry signs or other items they said they believe are important to history and to stay at the Playhouse to hear from Marshall President Jerry Gilbert, Director of Student Affairs and President of Office of Intercultural Affairs Maurice Cooley and more. 

For some participants, such as Teresa Stevens, a Huntington native, the walk to remember Martin Luther King Jr. has been part of her whole life. Stevens’ mother helped organize marches in downtown areas of Huntington, and she said she believes having marches to remembers activists like Martin Luther King Jr. can help remind people how everyone needs to keep fighting for a better future.

“Today we are protesting things that have not been completely equal for people such as civil rights, jobs and quality of life,” Stevens said. “People need to value what our four fathers went through so that we can have peace on earth and love.”

Stevens also reflected on how when she was a child, some of the community would participate in marches by taking their children to establishments that would not serve black people. 

“Years ago, they used to take us kids down to White Kitchen or so,” she said. “They (parents) would set the children down on the stools and order them a cherry cola to break up the segregation, and they wouldn’t serve us. That’s when yelling began and they’d kick us out.”

Brianne Covington, a junior psychology major at Marshall, attended the march to represent her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., and said the event was a good opportunity for people to come together. She also noted how seeing children present made her happy because she believes that means they are being informed about what has happened in history. 

“I’m one of those people who thinks we shouldn’t hide things from kids,” Covington said. “I think it’s important for kids to know what’s going on in the world today, so seeing kids show their support is great.” 

Hornbuckle also said he wanted to remind people that black history is not limited to Martin Luther King Jr. day or Black History Month, but it should be remembered all the time. 

“It’s very important to understand that while we recognize Martin Luther King during the month of February, teachings of black history have to be throughout the year,” he said. “They can’t just be in February and MLK Day, because not a lot of times do people understand that it’s not just Black History Month or African Americans studying the history, it’s American history.”

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected]