Cold wind and snow-covered sidewalks did not keep an enthused crowd of about 30 from marching and speaking in a Monday morning event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
After warming up on snacks and hot cocoa, a crowd departed the gym of the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center, 1134 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, to march to a statue of the slain civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient at a busy intersection a few blocks to the south.
The march was organized in part by members of Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), a multicultural social justice organization that fights for immigrant, student, and worker’s rights.
Jamie McClendon, candidate for Racine County Circuit Court Judge in the April 2 election, urged the crowd to follow the example of Dr. King in never stop pushing. “He understood the urgency and the importance of doing it now,” said McClendon. “That’s how I feel. Racine is at a point of urgency. The only people who don’t feel that urgency are people who are out of touch, or they are out of date, or it doesn’t bother them or impact them in any way. So, they don’t have to worry about that urgency of wanting change.
“Everyone is talking about how Racine County is the third worst place (in the U.S.) for African-Americans. And Wisconsin has just become the number one place for segregation. I’ve been told I have a short temper, but what it really is I’m fed up. What I really want to do is make Wisconsin the number one place for education, not segregation.”
Speakers at the statue touched on topics of interest to both the African-American and immigrant community. Several speakers urged older citizens to make sure they remain engaged in the struggle and back the young people who have taken up the efforts championed by Dr. King and others in the decades since his assassination.
Ald. John Tate II praised the efforts of students and young people in bringing a measure to the Racine City Council that supports licenses for undocumented immigrants. The resolution, which was approved, also includes a provision to allow those whose licenses have been suspended for minor infractions or for failure to pay fines to have their licenses reinstated. That practice of license revocation often stands in the way of people getting hired for jobs, and significantly affects the minority community.