During the civil rights movement, marches were used to protest race-based social inequality. Monday's 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom March was both a celebration and a call to action to protest some of the issues still present.

Hundreds gathered at Sadie Thomas Park to sing and pray before embarking on the 2.5-mile march to Kemp Elementary School. More than 900 people marched and stood along the streets for the annual event, and about 600 people stayed after for a program at Kemp Elementary with guest speaker Se7en, a poet from Houston, said Agnes Gray, a member of the Brazos Valley Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, which sponsors the march every year.

Participants said the march serves as a remembrance to those who gave their lives for believing in a cause.

"It's what we do to pay respect to not just Martin Luther King, but to everybody that was in the civil rights struggle, and to be a visual representation in the Bryan-College Station community of what he did, and that we're still trying to make changes today," said Edward L. Tarlton, a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

He and 14 other members of the fraternity rode along the route on Bus 12, an independent A&M spirit bus. The owner of the bus, Roger Lane, said it was important to be at the march to be involved in the community.

"A lot of people say diversity is our strength," Lane said. "It's not. Unity is our strength. And how can we be unified if we're not here?"

Those participating traveled from all over the Brazos Valley to see the annual march and pay their respects to King. Robertson County resident Dawn Jefferson participated in the march for the first time last year and asked a friend to join her at this year's event.

She said it's important to honor King's legacy because of all that he did for civil rights for all people, though especially for the black community.

"Everything that he's done, including losing his life behind it. It's just all-important for me to try to continue to do some of those type of things in my own community as well," she said. "So whenever I have the opportunity to participate in a worthwhile endeavor, and I'm able and willing, I do it."

Those marching acknowledged that King paved the way for other minorities to find equality as well, though they said the country still has a ways to go.

"Some of the same things that we were marching for back then, some things have gotten better, but not everything, and especially in this economic and political environment, we still need to make change," Tarlton said. "Because Martin Luther King wasn't just for civil rights, he was for everyone's rights. There's still things going on with women, African-Americans, especially in Texas, Hispanics, as far as moving them toward citizenship -- it's about equality, no matter what."

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(2) comments

Preston Wigginton

One of MLK's original speeches that was very good " What is Your Life's Blueprint."

http://seattletimes.com/special/mlk/king/words/blueprint.html

Unknown to many MLK, whose real name was Michael, not Martin, plagiarized his "I Have a Dream" speech and his thesis while he was at Brown University.

The "I Have a Dream Speech" was originally given by Archibald Carey at the 1952 Republican convention. King's dissertation was mostly plagiarized from a previous Brown University student Jack Boozer. In fact the Journal of American History after an investigatin of MLK writings claims that Jr. Papers Project wrote that “plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his [King's] academic writings,” including his doctoral dissertation.

Now after we feel all cushy after MLK day lets look at some facts to see what if anything has become positive for society for society and in particular black society after Civil Rights.

The only 2 positive things are that black incomes have risen by 12% and college graduation rates have increased by 6 %.

But what about the black family? While there has been a serious decay of the family across the board, the black family has been hit the hardest. In 1950 24% of black children were born illegitimate, today over 70%. In 1950 26% of black women between the age of 18 and 35 were single, today over 72%. Violence also plagues the black community today as the number 1 cause of death today for black women 18 to 35 is a black man beating them to death, not even in the top 100 causes in 1950. And black men today are 8 times more likely to be in prison today than white men. In fact over 50% of black males 18 to 35 are part of the prison system today either being in prison or on probation or parole. Black on black murder rates are very high. Last year while the USA was immersed in the Treyvon Martin case from the time of the shooting to the day the trial eneded over 10,850 blacks were murderd by other blacks.

While at A&M we have some of the most family oriented, the most talented and well mannered African Americans one would ever find, when the whole picture of black society in the USA is looked at one would have to ask if MLK was that successful and maybe if people stopped looking at political policy to gain advantage and started looking inward, as MLK 's original speech "What is Your Life's Blueprint?", then much of goals set out in the 1960's would be met.

roy g

Would we have expected anything less from the local racial separatist agitator Preston W. than a denigration of African Americans while conveniently ignoring the decline of his own race? Thanks again, PW, for illustrating the typical rightwing views on race. The Tea Party must truly love you.

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