Spokane march symbolizes awareness, need for change in America

By Nathan Peters and Shawntelle Moncy, for the Easterner

Photo by Shawntelle Moncy
Eastern students and community members participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event at the Spokane Convention Center on Jan. 19. The event was to commemorate King’s legacy by celebrating the holiday through educational and service-oriented activities.

“Last year we had about 150 [volunteers] and this year we [had] about 250 going out in the community. I think about 160 of them are Eastern students alone,” said Gabby Ryan, Eagle Volunteer Program coordinator. She said this was the second year Eastern has organized the community-service projects for the holiday.

The day started off at 10 a.m. with the unity rally at the convention center. After three speeches, everyone in the room left to begin the unity march. People walked through downtown Spokane to Riverfront Park around 10:45 a.m.

Last year, approximately 1,200 community members participated in the unity march, and about 2,000 people marched this year, according to Freda Gandy, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center.

“Marches were started to bring awareness to the injustice going on. Marches symbolize that we need to take a stand and that today, is what we do. That march symbolized that we’re going to advocate for justice and we’re going to advocate for equality and we’re going to do that the way that it was done in the 60s,” said Gandy. She said she has now coordinated the Day of Service event for two years.

After the march, people headed back to the resource fair in the convention center. Along with booths of local businesses and nonprofit organizations, the fair provided entertainment and light refreshments for participants.

At about 1 p.m., volunteers were bussed to one of the 13 nonprofit work sites in Spokane County. The service portion lasted until about 4 p.m.16305176496_16c26d6400_o

“[We have] never volunteered before, we feel like it’s important to get involved in the community,” said Nuvia Ramirez, Alpha Phi Sigma Sorority member. Along with Alpha Phi Sigma, nine other student organizations from Eastern volunteered for the service portion of the event.