On Saturday morning, members of the community and Sandusky’s NAACP chapter set out from the Second Baptist Church on Decatur Street. They marched to the Washington Park gazebo, flanked by a police escort, singing hymns and offering praise.
Watch the entire speech by clicking HERE
And see more photos from Saturday's re-creation of the march by clicking HERE
The crowd gathered around the gazebo’s platform and joined their voices to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song known as the African-American national anthem.
Later, Jim Jackson, president of the local NAACP chapter, and Geoff Oglesby, a Sandusky attorney, shared their thoughts on the anniversary. “Things are getting worse as they seem to get better,” Oglesby said. “Whenever there is a racist act, it creates an incident of slavery.”
His comments were followed by 12-year-old Sycamore Line resident Jmarshion Owens’ recitation of King’s full speech.
“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now...Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice,” Owens said, echoing King’s words.
“I feel proud,” Owens said. “Not a lot of people get this opportunity. I’m proud for what Martin Luther King did for me.”
Jackson later discussed the importance of carrying on King’s legacy, particularly with the generations who were born after his time.
When today’s children think about King, “it’s just like reading a history book about George Washington,” he said. “They don’t have a personal relationship with (the movement), they’ve got to understand where we came from, where we’re going.”
He offered some remedies for the Sandusky community, both on engaging the next generation, and what that next step may entail.
“We need to get closer. If you don’t know your neighbor, it’s very hard to have compassion for them, and that goes for both sides of the coin,” Jackson said.
Dan Leavell, 80, of Mills Street, reiterated that position. “When we have togetherness, that’s when we can make this dream a reality,” he said.
Leavell was disappointed only one city commissioner attended the event. “We’re a part of their constituency, they can show their interest in our problems— those problems are the community’s problems,” he said.
“Have we come a long way? Yes we have. Do we still have a long way to go? Absolutely,” Leavell said.