March on Athens

Students, locals honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Columbia University Professor Fredrick Harris, left, marches next to Ohio University President Roderick McDavis in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A brunch and silent march were held Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Laura Winegar | For The Post)

Senior and chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Brandon Chestnut (third from left) says a prayer before the beginning of a silent march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of peace and action. (Olivia Raney | For The Post)

Robert Peppers, a 1971 Ohio University alumnus, looks at the photographs of Athens’ response to Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968, recalling the sadness he felt when he heard the news by radio while in Seigfred Hall, and even pointing out some familiar faces in the pictures. Peppers, a professor of painting and drawing at OU, attended the 14th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brunch to see the work of one of his students on display. (Olivia Raney | For The Post)

The streets of Athens and the Ohio University campus were peppered with more than 100 Athens residents, children and students of all races to march together to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at OU kicked off with a silent march hosted by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

“(The silent march) is symbolic because Martin Luther King wasn’t just for African-Americans, he wanted to bring everyone together,” said Devonte Hopson, a senior studying engineering technology and management who participated in the silent march. “This march, as you can see, has brought a lot of different people of different races out.”

The morning commenced with the 14th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day brunch hosted by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Phi Chapter.

After a brief welcome from Derrick Holifield, the fraternity president, Ohio University President Roderick McDavis gave a few remarks concerning the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.

McDavis noted the people of this nation are on their way to reaching equality but not quite there yet. He said in reaching this goal of equality, everyone is stronger when they work together, not individually.

“I think what events like this help us to do is to understand that there are still some issues that we have to work through that deal with civil rights, human rights, those kinds of things,” McDavis said.

Keynote speaker Fredrick Harris, a political science professor and director of the Center for African-American Politics and Society at Columbia University, then spoke on historical struggles of African-Americans and the current struggles they still face today.

“I think there will be a time in American history where there will be true equality, but I think it’s going to require multiple generations for that to be accomplished,” Harris said. “I think it will take a great deal of reform to restructure the society where we will see greater opportunity and the spreading of greater prosperity and wealth throughout society.”

Events will be held throughout the week related to social justice and King.

“There are many people who simply take the day as a holiday,” McDavis said. “Let us not forget that while yes, it is a holiday, that this day really symbolizes … what a great American contributed to our society.”

Dina Berliner contributed to this report.

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