At the march and rally, people reaffirmed a commitment to the justice Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about. Said one teen, “To see everyone come in for the cause of people who have been put down in the past, to see them come in to lift up a community, it’s beautiful.”
For more years than he can remember, Gilberto Lopez attended Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations with his parents when he was a child growing up in Seattle.
On Monday, Lopez continued the tradition with his two young children, bringing his son and daughter to Garfield High School, his alma mater, for a packed rally and march celebrating the life of the slain civil-rights leader.
“This is a day to get together and remember that the strength in the people, and the community together, is still our greatest weapon against hatred and oppression,’’ said Lopez, 38, who lives in Seattle’s Central District. “I want them to hear more about the history. I want them to know there’s a historic tradition in this community. They don’t hear enough about it at school.”
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The rally and subsequent march drew thousands to the school and to the streets, where people reaffirmed their commitment to each other and to the far-reaching justice that King spoke about.
Sheila Callendret, 54, said she steeped herself in the reverend’s words in the days before the march as she thought about how she could help bring about change in what she described as a “crucial time” for the African-American community.
“How do we improve ourselves to benefit from a day like today?’’ she said. “When you look to his speeches and what he was all about — you have to take time to sit back and listen, and take from that and be that person. I want a piece of that in me.”
Christianna Hopson, who, at 15 has already started community college through Running Start, said she, too, has been reflecting on how she can make a difference, especially in helping to bridge the divide she seesbetween people of African descent who, like her, were born here, and those who have recently emigrated.
“We need to confront issues in our own community to make it stronger,’’ she said.
Standing in the packed gym before the rally, she said, “I feel a lot of love when I see other races come here. To see everyone come in for the cause of people who have been put down in the past, to see them come in to lift up a community, it’s beautiful.”
High in the bleachers, Lucy Nguyen and Andra Esterbrook, both 17, said they took strength from the gathering.
“Everything we fight for,’’ said Nguyen, “ is for everybody in this room.”