Friday, January 16, 2004

March, performance honor civil rights leader

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Cathy Greene (right) and other members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Choir dance as the Stat Band plays "Hosanna" at UC's Kresge Auditorium on Thursday.
(Gary Landers photo)
A diverse group gathered Thursday morning to commemorate what would have been the 75th birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Twenty-three people - black and white - braved the cold to march from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine's Kresge Auditorium to the slain civil rights leader's memorial on Reading Road.

The dignified group was led by the Rev. Calvin Harper, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater Cincinnati and Vicinity; William J. Martin II, dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; and Ken Hanover, president of the Health Alliance, one of the event's sponsors. Marchers included Mayor Charlie Luken; the Rev. Rousseau A. O'Neal, pastor of Rockdale Church; and Rabbi Mark Goldman of Rockdale Temple.

A floral wreath of daisies, mums and carnations was laid at the memorial, and Harper petitioned God for the "wisdom, determination and courage to accomplish Dr. King's goal of seeing the Promised Land."

The group then sang "We Shall Overcome."

Back at Kresge, a noon ceremony included performances by a 60-member choir - employees of the Health Alliance and UC. They sang spirituals and swayed to the music provided by the Stat Band - also Health Alliance employees. About 250 in attendance clapped to the beat.

The event's theme, "Bridging the Gap," was addressed by Cincinnati Councilman Christopher Smitherman, who focused on disparities in health care between blacks and whites. He called on the medical establishment to "abandon centrally located, isolated, facilities" in favor of "community-based services."

"Marginalizing members of the Cincinnati family is unacceptable," Smitherman said, to shouts of agreement from some. "On council, I have started down a road of racial compatibility."

Quoting King, he said he, too, was willing to put his life on the line to pursue justice. "Dr. King was not broadly loved as he told the truth about humanity. He was considered a troublemaker."

Smitherman urged everyone present to "make a career of humanity."


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