A Southeast Chicago event drew 2,400 people on Sunday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and discuss solutions for economic inequality, mass incarceration rates and environmental issues.
More than 2,000 people gathered Sunday in St. Michael the Archangel Church to honor the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. by addressing pressing social issues in Chicago.
The choir kicked off the two-hour long event with the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem.
Crowds came from around the city to fill the pews in the church on South Shore Drive.
“The real Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should not only be celebrated,” declared keynote speaker Rev. Dwight Gardner, “but the celebration should inspire us to resume the work for which he lived and died.”
The event was organized by IIRON and The People’s Lobby, two local grassroots organizations, and included speakers from the National People’s Action, the nonprofit SOUL and the Sierra Club.
City officials came forward to pledge their support for initiatives that included disclosing corporate income tax, raising wages for low-income workers and amending the state’s flat income tax.
The event was very special for Alice Griffin, 83, who says she was childhood friends with King. “It was very emotional for me,” she said. “I cried the whole time!” Of what King was like as a child, she added, “He always had a book in his hands.”
Attendees rose to their feet for the choir’s closing song, “We Shall Overcome.” Sheila Cooper (left) said she was moved by the event. “It was very spiritual to see so many different races together, holding hands,” said Cooper, 60. “That’s what the world is about.”