Despite temperatures hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit and a snow-covered path from the Springfield Art Museum to Wittenberg's Benham-Pence Student Center, approximately 50 students, faculty and staff members participated in the solemn but uplifting march.
The most famous freedom march took place Aug. 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C., as hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the event, which has often been credited with spurring legislators to create the landmark Civil Rights Act and National Voting Rights Act. The march changed the mindset of many Americans, and it was a catalyst for change that improved the lives of many African Americans and other disenfranchised people.
In the freedom marches of the 1960s, "it was college students that made the change," said Wittenberg's Director of Multicultural Student Programs and the WAGE Womyn's Center Forest Wortham. "Change usually happens with youth, and that is why this annual freedom march is for everyone."
Wittenberg's annual freedom march, originally organized by Bruce Robinson, Wittenberg class of 2006 and former president of Concerned Black Students (CBS), is intended to remind students of those who blazed the original trail toward freedom and equality for African Americans in America. CBS is celebrating its 40th anniversary during the 2008-09 school year.
"America still needs to work on things," Wortham said. "This is a symbolic way to remember those that walked before us. Those who marched before us marched for people who did not have a voice."
Following the march, which started at 8:30 a.m. and ended with comments by several community leaders as participants enjoyed refreshments at the student center, Wittenberg community members were treated to a presentation by scholar and historian Mary Frances Berry at the annual Witt Series-sponsored Martin Luther King Day Commemorative Convocation in Wittenberg's historic Weaver Chapel.
Written By: Jenna Oliver '09
Photo By: Erin Pence '04
Video By: Ross Ballinger '07
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