By Kailee Dunn
Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, students gathered in downtown Spokane to celebrate him and answer the question, “What are you doing for others?”
On Jan. 20, about 100 Eastern students joined thousands of community and civic group members who took part in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march.
Afterwards, several attendees completed volunteer hours at several non-profit organizations. Some of the non-profit organizations included House of Charity and The Salvation Army.
Clubs and organizations represented EWU at both the walk and during service hours, like BSU, the Office of Community Engagement and a group of international exchange students.
For the international students, the event was very enlightening and gave them a look into how far America has come in recent decades.
“This is a really good experience, not only because of the history, but because of the diversity,” said senior Noriko Sunada.
“I think [the march] is pretty cool because it gives us a real view of how people should treat minorities,” said Lucy Wu, an international student at EWU. “They are supposed to be equal to everyone.”
Before beginning the march, attendees listened to five speakers and a performance at Spokane Convention Center all pertaining to Martin Luther King Jr. Speakers included Mayor Dave Condon and keynote speaker Rev. Carolyn Gordon.
BSU President Satori Butler said, “[Carolyn Gordon] was by far my favorite. She touched everybody … and she was really inspiring.”
Gordon’s speech, which was themed around “walk it off,” made walkers question why they were at the march.
Senior Megan Schlenker, an Office of Community Engagement intern, thought the theme was really inspiring and personal.
“[Gordon] told us if you aren’t happy with your job and you’re just in it for a paycheck, walk it off,” said Schlenker. “If you feel like you’re not tall enough, short enough, thin enough, pretty enough, then just walk if off.”
“I more or less came because of work and, after Gordon’s speech, I was like ‘No, I need to be here,’” said Schlenker.
Once the speakers had finished, the conference room slowly emptied and began their five-block march from the INB Performing Arts Center to the front of River Park Square.
Civic groups and organizations marched with banners while families walked with signs that read encouraging messages such as “Never lose hope”. Eastern students carried a large red banner during the march.
“It was spectacular. It was like Bloomsday without the running,” said international exchange student Jay Chili
Bystanders from on-looking businesses and apartments on Main St. stopped to watch and wave as the marchers strolled by.
When they all arrived in front of River Park Square, they were greeted by Ferris High School marching band and hot chocolate at no charge.
“I love that Spokane does this, even in a mostly white community,” Butler said. “That’s why I came. I felt like all different races came together.”