Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembered With Parades, Protests, and Activism

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday had turned into a day when many people simply look forward to a day off work. This year, organizations like The Coalition Against Police Violence and Justice League NYC organized King Day marches against police brutality in cities from Boston to San Diego. For many people, recent events involving unarmed black men and women being killed by police have changed the focus of the King holiday from merely memorial to activism.

According to the L.A. Times, protesters in Oakland, California, projected an image of Dr. King onto the garage of the mayor’s house, along with the quote, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

In Atlanta, almost 2,000 people attended a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, King’s former congregation, many carrying signs bearing slogans like “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe.”

In Minnesota, protesters briefly blocked traffic on Interstate 94 as they marched to the state Capitol in St. Paul. reports that in Boston, activists marched from the Old State House to the African Meeting House chanting “Black Lives Matter!”

In New York, the family of Eric Garner, the unarmed black man who was choked to death by an NYPD officer last year, commemorated Martin Luther King Day by placing a wreath at the location where two NYPD officers were ambushed and then visiting Garner’s memorial.

The Reverend Al Sharpton accompanied the family. Sharpton is quoted as saying, “This holiday should also represent that we are unequivocally against the shedding of innocent blood.”

Later that day, the family learned that Garner’s memorial had burned down by suspected arson. Erica Garner, Eric Garner’s daughter, posted before and after photos on Twitter. Earlier that day, she had addressed the King Day protesters at the 4 Mile March.

While protesters marched in various parts of the country, others paraded or performed community service in honor of King’s life. Over 3,000 people in Los Angeles celebrated the 30th annual Kingdom Day parade, replete with music from marching bands.

President Obama and his family spent the day working with a Washington charity on a literacy program. The President had formally proclaimed January 19, 2015, to be a Federal holiday. In his proclamation, President Obama asked Americans to use the King holiday as a day of service. The proclamation reads, in part, “I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service projects in honor of Dr. King…”

[Image: Martin Luther King quotes on justice]