This year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Cincinnati commemoration focused on how music has communicated a non-violent message and how people can continue to lift their voices to make a difference. Hundreds braved the cold Monday to march from the Freedom Center to Fountain Square and then to Music Hall.
Cold temperatures had people walking briskly and occasionally breaking into song as they headed to the MLK Coalition program.
Eleven-year-old Brayden Isome marched with his dad and knew why he was doing it. "Because of civil rights and Dr. Martin Luther King was a good man and fought for our freedom."
Nearby, Bill Brogden motioned WVXU over to say the march means unity. "With so much hate going on and animosity and jealousy and bigotry this is his (Martin Luther King Jr.) moment to shine and this is our moment to bring everything together."
There were buses who brought people downtown, including Jewish groups. Michael Hall is part of the Adath Israel Congregation. "Behind closed doors there are people who hate each other by your religion or by your color and in 2020 there is no room for that today," he says.
Lots of people carried signs. Sycamore High School student Erica Liff had one with a peace sign. "It's a cause that we really care about. Although we have made steps towards equality it's not enough. We have to keep moving towards it," she says.
Once inside Music Hall, Miami University music history professor Tammy Kernodle took the audience back to West Africa and explained how song, poetry and dance created an identity. And she told them they must continue to add to this music "tapestry" that has stretched from then until now.
"There are have been songs that have reminded us that resistance hasn't always been angry. It can be found in a celebration of joy," she says. That's when the Martin Luther King Chorale broke into "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.
According to Kernodle, "We need to lift our voice," to "make space for everybody so our children will have a better world to live in."