MLK celebration pushes economic equality

January 19, 2014 (CHICAGO)

The holiday paying tribute to the civil rights icon is Monday.

Dr. King would have been 85 years old.

Many will have the day off Monday to honor the minister who preached non-violence, demanded not only civil rights, but equal rights.

Among the celebrations to mark his life, was a gathering that emphasized an obligation to continue his work.

This was not a church service, but there was a sermon at Saint Michael the Archangel, a call to action.

"We must stand we must stand, we must together," said Rev. Dwight Gardner, Trinity Baptist Church of Gary.

This was a way to honor Dr. Martin Luther King and motivate a modern movement for equity.

"We weren't just trying to bring people together to celebrate, but to get inspired and go out and work," said Elliot Zashin.

The event was called "Hope in an Age of Crisis: Reclaiming Dr. King's Radical Vision of Economic Equality."

Participants point to several issues that require attention.

"In terms of the conditions of poverty and people being left out and left behind, it is probably worse now as it has ever been," Rev. Gardner said.

"What it looks like in our community right now is that people don't have the resources to survive right now," said Kristina Tendilla, Bridgeport Alliance.

Hundreds attended from all around our area, with different backgrounds and perspectives.

One woman watched Sunday's gathering through the lens of an octogenarian who grew up in the segregated south.

Alice Griffin says she played with Dr. King when they were children in Georgia. She recalls wanted him on her baseball team.

"He would say, 'Alice, as soon as I finish this page.' He always had books in his hand," she Griffin said.

Griffin says remembering some things made her sad Sunday, but there were also moments she felt joy.

"People are still fighting and wanting to fight for what he believed in and I'm really happy about that," she said.

Speakers called on politicians to hold true to their commitments to public service.

Several politicians made pledges publicly to support ordinances and legislation to protect workers' rights and our environment.

Two organizations sponsored Sunday's event, IIRON and the People's Lobby.

Organizers plan to follow the politicians who attended to see they kept their word.

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