Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Asheville on a warm, sunny Martin Luther King Day to celebrate the civil rights leader and rally for peace.
They marched Jan. 19 from the St. James AME Church to Pack Square Plaza, where they listened to speeches, bowed heads in prayer, and danced to the soulful sounds of local band, West Sound.
The event served as “a call to action,” said organizer Joseph Fox, noting that society is still a long way from manifesting King’s dream of peace and equality. “Don’t let Martin Luther King’s death go in vain,” Fox pronounced to the crowd, urging people to work in whatever ways they can to spread justice.
Reminding people that racial tensions are still intense, a group of Warren Wilson College students shared tales from recent trips to Ferguson, Mo., the site of ongoing major protests after police there shot an unarmed black man last summer. The students urged attendees to take up the “racial justice movement of our generation” by getting involved in a long list of local organizations.
Despite ongoing racial tensions and inequalities, Rev. Keith Lipsey struck an uplifting tone in his closing prayer. “Let hope prevail in all that we do and say,” he said. “The dream is still alive.”
Local events in honor of Martin Luther King Day continue throughout the week. Click here for a roundup.
Here’s an aggregation of dispatches from the event via Storify (curated by Hayley Benton):