Voices from Saturday’s MLK Unity Walk at Railroad Park
by Mandy Shunnarah • January 13, 2013 @ 5:59am
The 3rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Walk took place on Jan. 12 in Railroad Park under sunny skies. An estimated 350 people gathered to take part in honoring the legacy of Dr. King.
The Birmingham Metro Diversity Coalition (BMDC), a nonprofit organization that began as part of Operation New Birmingham’s (now REV Birmingham) Community Action Committee, puts on the event each year. The organization seeks to promote diversity and understanding in the city of Birmingham.
“The BMDC is future-oriented, so we want to set the pace for tomorrow,” said Rev. Joseph Walker, Co-Founder of the BMDC.
“The walk is reflective of the marches for liberation during the Civil Rights Movement. Every year we also focus on some aspect of health to educate the community, so walking helps us remember our health initiatives,” said Velma Williams, this year’s Chair of the MLK Unity Walk.
After the releasing of white doves, participants joined to walk as one to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy.
“The MLK Unity Walk promotes unity and embracing diversity to reach a common goal,” said Alyece Loyd. “This bringing together of community shows times have changed,” added Walter Henson.
“I think sometimes events can be window dressing, but this is a genuine coalescing,” said Stuart Oates. “I think it’s positive that there are so many different kinds of people here,” Kay Smith added.
“It’s about coming together as one for a great and positive purpose—the way it was always intended to be,” Joanne Keenan said. “By showcasing diversity, this event becomes our new starting point for even more diversity. Let’s honor the past and keep looking forward,” said Agee Baldwin.
Students from Gettysburg College made a stop in Birmingham on a Civil Rights tour throughout the Southeast. “Being here today brings Dr. King’s history to the present,” said Cam Nguyen. “It’s a reminder to the community about what has happened and what must be done for a better future,” said peer Maycol Velez.
Organizations with a mission to build a healthier Birmingham provided information at the event, including Birthwell Partners, HealthSmart, UAB Division of Preventative Medicine, Addiction Coalition, Health InfoNet of Alabama, and others.
50 Years Forward, a city of Birmingham website, lists events for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.
Hands on Birmingham hosts an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service each year. Find volunteer opportunities for January 21st on their website. Space is limited; sign up today.