MLK March Helps KCC Members Move Their Feet for Peace
More than 100 people participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day March that began at Union Church on January 21. Berea community members, Berea College students and staff, Kentucky College Coaches, KCC Junior volunteers, and parents with their children were among the participants who gathered at 9:30 a.m. to celebrate the memory of the civil rights leader.
Rev. Gail E. Bowman, Director of Berea College’s Campus Christian Center and College Chaplain, spoke about the importance of marching and being passionate about freedom. “We march because Dr. King had a marching tradition, we march because the city of Berea has a marching tradition, we march because we have a right and it is right to march,” she said. “We must march because we want to be peace on feet.”
The marchers included 15 children who were prepared and motivated to participate after prepping for it the day before with the help of Kentucky College Coach staff members and junior volunteers. The team met with the children at the Ecovillage, an ecologically sustainable residential and learning complex for Berea College students with families. The facility also houses a childcare center for campus children and provides labor opportunities for students interested in sustainability.
Volunteers worked with the children to create banners and posters for the march that were decorated with colorful handprints and thought bubbles that represented the children’s dreams of the future. KCC staff member Ismaila Ceesay recognized that it was important for the four junior volunteers to learn how to build community through service by helping others.
“The KCC students participated because part of coaching students to get into college includes showing them other areas, other than academics, that can help them,” said Ceesay. “Volunteerism is one of these tangibles and the students decided to use the MLK event as an opportunity to serve their community by being contributing members of their community, learning other skills like mentoring, organizing an event, and just simple responsibility.”
Ceesay said the Ecovillage has a history of participating in the MLK Day marches, and that the children who continued this tradition enjoyed it. “The children loved making their own flags at the Sunday MLK event prep, and they loved marching with the adults because they know marching towards equality is an important event,” he said.
The Ecovillage children’s parents walked alongside them, holding the banner, displaying a heart, the handprints of their children, and a caption that read “United With Love.” “The parents like marching in this event because it is a teaching opportunity for them,” Ceesay said. “Their willingness to help their children read stories about MLK prompts questions from the kids about MLK and civil rights, which is the whole point.”
Ceesay pointed out that the junior volunteers learned from the event, too. “They were hopefully infected with the volunteerism bug!” he said.