Remembering the vision

Hollan Holm

Some marched to remember. Some marched to honor. Some marched for peace.

Peace signs were placed at the back of the line while peace songs resounded at the front of the line in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration March held Monday morning.

Organizer John Huffman lined participants up six-abreast on the asphalt outside of the Warren County Justice Center behind a banner that read: “Remember the Vision, the Mission, the Man.” Huffman has organized the march and lead songs in it for 16 years.

“A lot of people think this is a black thing,” Huffman said. “It’s not a color thing.

“If we can’t come together one day, we can’t live together the rest of the year,” he said.

According to organizer Shannah Montgomery, about 300 people attended the march on Monday.

“The march was excellent,” she said. “Every year it seems to have grown.”

Jim Duffer of Bowling Green gave his tribute to Martin Luther King by marching in the garb of another historical figure, Abraham Lincoln.

“I would like to honor Martin Luther King,” Duffer said playing the character of Lincoln. “He was every bit a greater man than me.”

Returning back to himself, Duffer reflected on the past.

“In Abe’s day, a black man was not allowed to walk in front of a white man. I would walk behind Dr. King any day,” he said.

Interspersed with black marchers, white marchers carried signs with slogans like “Fix America, Not Iraq” and “No War, Know Peace.”

Farrah Ferriell, a graduate student from Bowling Green, said the antiwar protests at the march are part of a nation-wide movement.

“(King) believed violence did not bring social justice,” Ferriell said. “He always spoke against the Vietnam War.”

Casey Olmsted of Bowling Green also came to protest the war in Iraq in the spirit of King. One side of the white poster board he carried quoted King: “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time.”

Huffman said he thought the antiwar message was great.

“A lot of times we bring (war) on ourselves,” he said.

Before the march began, the war protesters were asked to move to the back of the line.

According to Montgomery, war protest marchers showed up without any prior mention of their presence. They were told to move to the back so their protests wouldn’t overshadow the Martin Luther King March, she said.

“We wanted to put a separation to show that we are neither supporting or condoning the protests,” Montgomery said.

Bowling Green Mayor Sandy Jones walked up Center Street with protesters and rememberers alike. She said being present in the march puts action to words.

“We’re not just talking about things because they are the right things to talk about,” Jones said. “We do them because they are the right things to do.”

Syleethia Holesome of Bowling Green is in the seventh grade at Drakes Creek Middle School. She said she marched to make King’s dream of racial equality come true.

“A lot of people including me face (racial injustice) throughout our lives,” Holesome said, citing former neighbors who would give strange looks to her black family, call them names and forbid them to come into their yard.

As the crowd trudged up Center Street, Hispanic and Asian families stood and watched from front doors and front yards.

By the time it reached Twelfth Street, Huffman ran up and down the front of the line waving and shouting to the crowd as he led a chorus of the spiritual “Down by the Riverside.”

“I’ll lay down my burdens, down by the riverside, and I’ll study war no more.”

Reach Hollan Holm at [email protected]