Tucsonans march in celebration of King's 'dream'

By Lisa Heller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 16, 1996

Ruthie M. Caffery
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Crowds mill about Reid Park after marching from the UA Mall yesterday. The festivities included live music and dancing.


As people of all colors marched down the last stretch of Country Club Road to Reid Park, they shouted, "What do you want? Freedom! When do you want it? Now! How you gonna get it? Work for it!"

The theme for Tucson's 11th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration was "Voices of Visions," but a more universal theme surfaced - unity. Friends, families and neighbors came together to celebrate King's birthday.

"People assemble on this day with the commitment that they will do something to make the lives of themselves and others better," said Dr. Jesse Hargrove, assistant dean of African American Student Affairs. "We must care about people; they are the last natural resource of America."

A crowd of about 400 people of all ages and races took part in yesterday's march from the University of Arizona Mall to Reid Park. At the park, poets, singers, dance teams and church choirs added to the celebration. The holiday is "a reminder of where Ame rica should be," said Maurice Nelson, media arts sophomore. "It's not just a black people day, it's a people day."

Songhai Performers, a group of African drummers that included a 7-year-old, opened the entertainment dressed in traditional African apparel.

'The festival was a beautiful display of African history," said Sean Russell, accounting freshman.

Although Tucson has celebrated the day with a march on for over a decade, it didn't become an official state holiday until 1991. In fact, Super Bowl organizers passed Arizona over for the '93 game because it had no official King holiday.

"We have received the holiday, but the work is not over yet," said Donna Liggins, mistress of ceremonies.

Reverend Victor Wilson, who spoke at the celebration, emphasized that much of King's message was that all people should accept the Lord into their lives. If people learn nothing from King's teachings, Wilson said, he has "died in vain."

Saundra Taylor, vice president of Student Affairs, was among the crowd at the celebration.

She said, "King was a voice for all people. He had a message for all of us - all people are created equal. It must not be a dream, we must make it a reality."