On Jan. 19, the MLK Day of Action, Resistance and Empowerment committee (D.A.R.E) lead a march in hopes of continuing the work that Martin Luther King Jr. began.
The organizers of the rally decided on numerous demands for the event: an end to stop-and-frisk policies, an independent police review board that is fully empowered and funded, a fully funded, democratically controlled school system and a $15 per hour minimum wage with the right to form unions.
“It represents that people are coming from all different sectors and uniting under a concise set of three demands shows that this movement has momentum,” said Paul Winston Cange, junior political science major and member of People Utilizing Real Power. “The diversity in the groups is essential to the success of the movement.”
Temple students met at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue at 1:30 p.m. on Monday to join the official rally and march, which began at 2 p.m. and finished at Independence Mall.
Protesters from around the city gathered with signs carrying messages like “No Justice, No Peace,” “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” and “I Can’t Breathe.”
Protesters marched through the street, chanting and distributing information to those interested. When the march reached Independence Hall, speakers included parents with children in the school district and Tanya Dickerson, the mother of Brandon Tate Brown, who was killed by police in December.
The speakers discussed marchers’ demands and asked the crowd to continue to spread “messages of justice” everyday.
Multiple organizations worked together to put together the MLK D.A.R.E. March, including POWER, Philadelphia 15 Now and Temple’s branch of PURP.
“A lot of young people now have been conditioned to be a lot less radical than in previou
s generations, so I think it’s really great that a lot of us are waking up and really realizing that we can affect… change,” Jill Richards, a member of Philly 15now, said.
“We believe that these issues are issues that are paramount not only to people of color, but all people in Philadelphia,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild.
“We haven’t quite realized Dr. King’s dream yet … [People being] regarded for the content of their character and not the color of their skin,” he added.
Cange said many people consider student involvement to be key in helping the movement continue.
“Sheer numbers will help accomplish the demands, and we’re students at Temple, which is one of the big institutions in the city,” Cange said. “By pressuring Temple, we can help the movement in the fight. We think our involvement is crucial to the entirety of the struggle.”
Students from the University of Pennsylvania and Community College of Philadelphia marched alongside Temple students, as well as high school students interested in the cause.
“A lot of the issues we’re talking about … are directly impacting young adults who are college age,” Royster said. “These issues – they’re going to impact them if they stay in Philadelphia and have families here.”
The march and coalition formed in response to the deaths and the grand jury decisions in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, respectively, as well as longstanding issues that affect people of color in the Philadelphia community.
In an official press release from the coalition, Royster explained further.
“While a day of service and giving back is a good thing, we need to take it a step further by taking action and demanding change,” he wrote.
Marchers said the Reclaim MLK Day march is the start of what the MLK D.A.R.E. coalition plans to accomplish.
“We plan to continue working and organizing around Temple’s campus,” Cange said. “This is just the beginning.”
Vince Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org