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A march to remember

A march to remember


Jan 22 2003

The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday manifested on Monday as a large contingency of non-violent supporters marched through the streets of Seaside in Monterey County.
The rally and march began at noon with a group estimated between 700 to 1,000 people making their way down Broadway. People of all ages, races and causes came together to celebrate the life and goals of the civil rights leader and to voice discontent for an impending war in Iraq.
The rally was organized the NAACP and people involved with organizing the rally stated that approximately 30 groups were anticipated to take part.
A large labor constituency was seen as the Service Employees International Union and other unions took the chance to support non-violence and civil rights. Local SEIU Chapter 17 President Joe Salisbry said that King’s message about civil rights, union rights and non-violence was important.
“It’s all one and the same,” said Salisbry. “The possibility of war and the civil and union rights abuse in this country is unbelievable.”
The holiday allowed students, who had the holiday off from the rigors of academia, to voice their appreciation for the struggle that King spearheaded.
“It is important for us (students) to be out here because if it wasn’t for him (King), black and white people wouldn’t go to school together,” said Jasmine Ross, 14, who attends Martin Luther King Junior High School in Seaside.
At noon the group was led down Broadway by a police car. The organizers attempted to lead a group effort to sing “Happy Birthday” to King and also the popular song “We Shall Overcome.”
Members of the Santa Cruz Coalition for Peace were on hand to promote peace in the Iraqi conflict and to celebrate King’s birthday.
“I do not see a distinction between the issue of civil rights and peace in regards to Iraq,” said Susan Zeman, member of the Coalition for Peace. “Both are struggling for human rights and personal freedom.”
Along Broadway, families and curious bystanders gathered to see the procession slowly move down the street. The march was led by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Color Guard and was followed by the elderly, school children and union members.
A big part of the theme for the day, besides the celebration of King’s birthday, was the element of labor that is opposed to the U.S.-led war against Iraq. Bob Fitch, from the Santa Cruz based Center for Non-Violence, said that labor is uniting on the peace front.
“The government likes to say that the peace movement is composed of liberals and hippies, the ‘choir’ element of society,” said Fitch. “We have over 26,000 signatures from 56 different unions that have signed petitions against this war. Labor is not part of the ‘choir’ and they (the government) must recognize this.”
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the mix of age and race was a clear message of unity and humanity aimed at getting the non-violent message out on a local and broader level.

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