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91.7 WVXU presents several special programs on the weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Joining Lee Hay for a special edition of The Blues is Dion Brown, President and Chief Operating Office of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Lee Hay also produced Odetta: The Voice of The Civil Rights Movement and welcomed several guests to Around Cincinnati in honor of the holiday.

Annual MLK March Highlights 'The Big Rainbow Of America'

As the pandemic rages on and at a time of great political division nationwide, the 46th Annual MLK March in Cincinnati pushed forward to celebrate the obstacles overcome throughout American history.

On Monday, more than 200 people gathered safely to march through the streets in remembrance of the efforts of civil rights leaders put forth to fight for equality in the United States. To stay safe, many took part within the safety of their own vehicles.

Despite COVID affecting this year’s celebration, Pastor Steven Bester says the march is about not forgetting the freedom civil rights leaders fought for.

“Everyone wants to make sure that we do not forget what those people laid down back in the day, laying down their lives, giving their life for freedom,” Bester says. “We come out and support each other being one, everybody being in unity, there’s no black or white. There’s no red. There’s no yellow. It’s all one, the big rainbow of America.”

Bester says Dr. Martin Luther King taught Americans how to protest peacefully, using examples of bus sit-ins and marches from decades prior.

“We have to do the same thing today,” Bester says. “Everyone gets on the bus. It’s not rich and poor. It’s not one percent, everyone else, all people being equal in God we trust.”

MLK Coalition President Raffel Prophett says the celebration is about reflection. He says growing up in Cincinnati, there were a lot of obstacles, as well as opportunities presented to him.

“Where I am now is to try to extend those opportunities to the generation that is following me,” Prophett says. “There’s always been challenges, but that’s what we’re celebrating with King to overcome those challenges.”

The theme of this year’s march is “We Will Never Be Satisfied Until Justice Rolls Down Like Water.” Coalition members say more young people took part in this year’s event and that will be important going forward.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.