Hayward community marches in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Daisy Ortiz,

On the morning of Jan. 16 in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, children, CSUEB students, teens, parents and grandparents gathered in front of Hayward City Hall. Approximately 200 people attended according to board member of the South Hayward Parish, Terri Owens. Many of them chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Divided we fall, united we stand.”

Members of various churches including the Unitarian Universalist Church, the First United Methodist Church, and others from the community met at City Hall around 9 am to participate in the “MLK Unity March – Now More Than Ever.” 

The South Hayward Parish organized this event that’s ran now for 8 consecutive years, board member Terri Owen said. They are made up of 8 liberal congregations that focus on hunger, poverty and homelessness and are also the only emergency shelter for the homeless in Hayward, Owen said. She explains that they wanted to honor the day of MLK in a public space.

The march brought out performers such as the band Gravity Plus 3, which consists of members of the Unitarian church as well as the choir from First United, many of them children. Various church leaders gave announcements, read scriptures, and recited a few MLK quotes before the march began. Leaders encouraged protesters to show love for one another at this time and unite in order to make their voices be heard.

“We’ve got to let our voices be heard,” said Freedeye M. Davis, president of Hayward’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Many people yelled “amen” in agreement. A few in the crowd wore T-shirts with various pictures of MLK. Signs throughout the crowd declared phrases like “Let freedom ring,”  “Love trumps hate,” “No room for racism” and many more that conveyed similar messages of love and equality.

“We may be facing some difficult times here,” said Hayward’s Mayor Barbara Halliday, who was wearing an Obama-Biden hat. U.S. Representative of California’s 15th district Eric Swalwell also made a brief appearance and reiterated that this had been the biggest turn-out he’s seen for this event. Shortly after his speech, he and the mayor left the event.

With recent construction underway downtown, protesters went up D St. rather than C St., left on Mission, left on A st., left on Montgomery Ave. and arrived back on B st. to City Hall. As attendees made their way back around to City Hall, music and chanting continued.

Throughout the march many of the youth were the ones to start the chants. One of the younger boys would yell “No justice” and the rest of the group would respond “No peace” or Mr. Britton, being the one up front, would say “Love” on the megaphone and everyone would yell out “trumps hate.” Many vehicles honked as they drove past. Hayward Police was present but only a few throughout the route taken. It was a peaceful protest and that’s how it stayed.

“His primary principle has been love your enemies,” Bob Britton board member of the Unitarian Church reflects on MLK’s beliefs and his reason for him being his long time hero. “Like the Women’s March that I just attended, being with people that focus on therapeutic love makes it therapeutic for me” he adds about his feelings of that day. He explains being “scared for the future with all the hateful things being said.” Regardless, he is in fact happy with the turn-out this year. “Three times the amount of previous years,” Britton says an attendee of several years mentioned to him. Mr. Britton believes they could have more people attending and hopes to see double the amount next year.