Jobs, Peace and Justice: Detroiters rally and march in 11th annual MLK Day celebration

In commemoration of the Freedom Summer of 1964, and in honor of the work and legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer, citizens from Detroit and the surrounding Metro area gathered at Central United Methodist Church in the city’s downtown for the 11th annual MLK Day Rally and March, Jan. 20.

“During the summer of 1964, nearly one thousand mainly young people traveled to the most dangerous areas of Mississippi and Southwest Tennessee to assist with the ongoing registration of African Americans to vote and fight American-aparthied. Even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed that summer, the activists lost three heroic fighters: Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, who were brutally lynched by Mississippi law-enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan,” The Detroit MLK Day Committee writes in the program for the event.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and march in Detroit

“Today we honor the Detroit-area participants in Freedom Summer five decades ago. These activists, lawyers and students who sacrificed their safety and endangered their lives in order to challenge the denial of the right to vote and access to public accommodations have provided tremendous lessons for the movement in 2014 in a state where the majority of the African American population and others are subjected to an imposed system of emergency management and the forced bankruptcy of the largest city in Michigan.”

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

Numerous speakers and performers addressed a packed house at the church, culminating in a march of more than 600 throughout the streets for Jobs, Peace and Justice.

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

With the church pews at capacity on the main floor, Ken Chambers listens to speakers during the program from the balcony of the church.

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

More than 600 supporters set out on the march through downtown Detroit after a send-off from the church. “In our great city of Detroit, we are fighting to restore the right to be governed by elected leaders. The imposition of the unelected Emergency Manager rolled back the historic gains of the 1960s by removing the power of elected officials to make any independent decisions historically within their power,” according to the Detroit MLK Day Committee.

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

Renla Session, Detroit resident, marches through the streets during the 11th annual Rally and March to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day and for Jobs, Peace and Justice.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and march in Detroit

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

“The appointment of the EM has paved the way for a bankruptcy imposed on Detroit and for the seizure of city assets, the privatization of municipal workers, the theft of city workers’ and retirees’ pensions, brazenly reducing Detroit to a colony of Wall Street.”

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

Barbara Carter, Detroit resident, yells and chants along with more than 600 fellow demonstrators on the journey through downtown Detroit during the march.

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

“The Civil Rights Movement, which crested in the 1960s, teaches us that a massive mobilization of the grass roots in a determined and militant struggle is the most effective way to confront the injustice and the 1% behind it.”

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

11th annual MLK Day Rally and March in Detroit. Jobs, Peace and Justice.

Wearing a giant paper mache costume of Martin Luther King Jr., Bruce Liles, Detroit resident, with the help of Jennifer Teed, also a Detroit resident (left), waves to marchers from the roadside as they pass near the end of the march.

“A powerful movement of Detroiters and allies is needed today to confront Wall Street and their reactionary, racist politicians and take back what belongs to all us. Already, a small but growing movement in Detroit has slowed down the Emergency Manager and his bankruptcy – Fight or starve!” Detroit MLK Committee concludes in their written program.

All quotations  from the official 2014 Detroit MLK Day printed program.