OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Oklahoma City rehearsed the traditions of the breakfast, the silent march, the ringing of the bell at the Oklahoma History Center, the holiday program, and the parade.
But, there was a more serious and less triumphant tone to much of the day this year.
With the awareness of many states passing new laws clearly intended to restrict voting, the day possessed a serious present concern from Black Oklahoma City culture that still has many alive today who remember voting restrictions of the past all too well.
Both in the morning at the breakfast and then at the program at St. Paul’s Cathedral, speakers as well as the MC, Dianna Johnson, made direct appeals for the day to not just be a celebration of the past but a renewal of determination to keep the right to vote and to get out and vote.
More than just celebrate
Jabee Williams prefaced a performance called “We are His Dream” with poet Dashari Miller by saying that often when Dr. King was asked about his “I have a dream” speech, he would say that it more felt “like a nightmare.”
“In his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, he talked about some of the same things that we’re experiencing today in 2022,” said Williams. “It’s so important that we do more than just celebrate him. We have to educate on what he was, what his philosophy was, and what the dream was truly about. Because if it’s lost and forgotten, and we have kids thinking that Dr. King freed the slaves, we’re doing a bad job.”
“And I say ‘we’ because a lot of times we talk about them and they, and they should do this and them and they. There’s no ‘them.’ There’s no ‘they.’ There’s just us. It’s you and me. It’s all of us.”
Later, Williams marched with a group of activists who were at the core of the effort to stop Julius Jones’ execution. And, now they are trying to get Jones freed for time served.
As in years past, the parade lasted most of the afternoon with participation of many groups including fraternities, sororities, Oklahoma City Public Schools administrators as well as students from John Marshall Mid-High, Douglass High School and others.
Activists were present in larger numbers than in years past, even more determined after the grueling years of 2020 with the George Floyd protests, arrests of some activists, and then the efforts of 2021 to save the life of Julius Jones.
With 2022 being an election year for Mayor of Oklahoma City as well as midterm elections in the fall, politicians were out in full force as well.
Here is a gallery of some sights of the day:
[Click on any photo to bring up hi-res versions of all the gallery and scroll through.]
Last Updated January 18, 2022, 12:53 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor