On January 18, 2016, the City of Memphis held its annual King Day celebrations. Members of Black Lives Matter, Memphis Bus Riders Union, Mid-South Peace & Justice, and various sororities and fraternities participated in the annual King Parade organized by Dr. Isaac Richmond.
Auction Street historically known for it’s immoral, social, and economic degradation where Blacks were sold into bondage to the highest bidder is where all participants assembled by the slab. Drums were beating as a remembrance of our African Culture that some have forgotten. The Reclaim King March preceding the parade, which was led in prayer by Meredith Pace of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center on the auction block. The Reclaim MLK March began on the same street that our ancestors were sold as slaves, arrested, beaten, and killed.
The purpose of the March is to illustrate the lack of change that Memphis still maintains with its low wages, economic inequities, deprivation of liberty, poverty, and relentless police brutality.
The Reclaim MLK March allowed various organizations, diverse groups, and the children to participate together in an open stance demanding equality, justice, and democracy for all Memphians. This unity and solidarity has been absent for many years in the annual parade but this year, an undeniable, symbolic, posture of empowerment was delivered to this generation and the City of Memphis. The sentiments of change could be felt as each marcher listened to the words of Martin Luther King, which echoed through the loudspeakers in the streets.
“When all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last, Thank God, Almighty… Free At Last!
Despite the 30 degree temperature, warmth radiated a sense of pride and unity, which could be felt throughout all of downtown Memphis, and identified by the demographic of King’s dream, an almost reality in Memphis, TN.
On this day, we were undivided with a prayer where all races, genders, cultures, and ages joined hands with a newfound Negro Spiritual. During the Reclaim MLK March, different participants chanted, “Blacklivesmatter”, “Transit, not Trolleys”, “Show me 15”, “We Young, We Strong, We Are Marching All Day Long, and “No Justice No Peace, No Racist Police”. “What Do We Want Justice, When Do We Want It, NOW!”
The echos could be heard all the way to the Grizzlies spectators at the FedExForum. The parade concluded where the Honorable Dr. Martin Luther King took his last breath and shed his blood for all people to have the right to unite, and exercise our Freedom of Speech, in a city known for its right wing oppressiveness. This Reclaim MLK March was monumental, and we are sure Dr. King should be proud. Despite the National Civil Rights Museum making this day a corporate segregation to generate revenue, with it’s separate agenda, Black Lives Matter and others woke up the sleeping city of Memphis Tennessee. We will continue to organize, chant, rant, and rave until this city understands that BLACK LIVES DO MATTER, and we need more than integration to bring about this multilateral transformation.
We want the racial reconciliation, same access, same treatment, and equal opportunities that other races have, by all means necessary.
Be sure to like us on Facebook and Follow us on Instagram & Twitter. Stay tuned for more protest, events, marches, information, and awareness.