Dozens march in memory of MLK, but for many his dream hasn’t been achieved yet

Photo by Arbiter Staff

Dozens marched from Boise State University to the state capitol on Jan. 15, 2024 to keep the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive. 

As Boiseans walked through the snowy streets of downtown Boise, they chanted “No justice, no peace” and various other chants associated with civil rights marches. The march was started by Eric Love, a Boise State graduate and human rights activist. 

The march represented multiple different groups of people, with some carrying signs for religions, the LGBTQ+ community and even ones in support of Palestine. 

For one attendee and local pastor from Wright Church — Heather Miner — King’s legacy is about love and community.

“I’m here to support these folks and to remember a man that has had a big influence on me and my life. And it’s one of those places where church was gonna make a difference. Are they an act of faith, a movement of change in the world. I want to be part of that,” Miner said. “Like I put on my sign, ‘love wins.’” 

Once the group reached the Capitol, students from ASBSU and from the MLK Living Legacy gave speeches on the capitol steps that focused on this year’s theme: “beloved community.” 

“The one thing that I remember as a young man is that my father always told me that the needs always have to outweigh the wants,” Chair of the MLK Living Legacy Committee, Charles Jones said. “One thing I see in a community is that we always focus on the need.”

But for many marching, King’s legacy isn’t something to just be remembered, it is an ongoing fight to see his values achieved.

“We have to keep telling [his] story. It can’t be silent as evidence of the injustice we see in our country and across the world,” Mariah Mills, a pastor for Redeemer Lutheran Church said. 

The closing speaker, Ky Gathura, Associate Chair of MLK Living Legacy Committee, also focused on the ways America and the world at large fail to live up to his teachings.

“We live in a time where ignorance is no longer bliss … We live in a time where no matter where your head turns there is violence … We live in a time where we have gotten so scared to raise our hands that we allow ourselves to be indoctrinated with the false truth that is security and justice,” Gathura said in her speech.

While Gathura encouraged people to “get up and do something”, Gathura also criticized media coverage of multiple international issues, including the bombing of the Gaza strip and the genocide in the Congo.

“We are constantly silenced by the ever-growing and overwhelming treachery that is a false narrative. Western Media doesn’t show you what’s really going on. It never will,” Gathura said in her speech. 

In an interview with The Arbiter, Gathura elaborated that she believes western media “waters down” civil rights issues, and King’s legacy, to be more palatable for white people. 

“Due to American stereotypes, that’s all they see [Africans] as is just like, African people who are constantly living in a state of poverty, when that state of poverty was brought to by colonization, and colonization has never has never ended. It’s just evolved.”

According to Gathura, the media consistently leaves out the role colonization plays in ongoing conflicts, as well as more controversial beliefs King held, such as his criticisms of capitalism and the Vietnam War. 

Gathura also believes the way King’s movement is taught leaves key civil rights activists out of the picture, such as Coretta Scott King, Jo Ann Robinson and Bayard Rustin

“MLK fought for all and he had incredible overlooked people on his team who were different genders and sexualities. He had a diverse team with them, even though it was primarily black, he still had a diversity with them,” Gathura said. “But that also requires us to and to stand together and to not let discrimination happen in our fight because it is ultimately discrimination that got us here in the first place.”

For Gathura, this meant that growing up she didn’t have many “black heroes” to look up to. 

“The education system in the US doesn’t really show a lot of black heroes, of course, outside of the very stereotypical like MLK, Rosa Parks [and] Harriet Tubman,” Gathura said. 

For her, the lack of seeing other black women speak at marches made her want to speak at the event. 

“I felt like it was a personal obligation to sort of  heal myself in a way, but also to just bring that voice to the steps because that’s not something that regularly [happens],” Gathura said.

For her, issues from police brutality to the microaggressions she faces show that America, and Idaho, have a long way to go to achieve King’s dream. 

“There’s just so many different ways of microaggression and racism to persist, [it’s] just a constant stream. I’ve been called an aggressive black so many times,” Gathura said. “We’re definitely still working for [his dream]. The Civil Rights Movement was primarily something that was in the 50s, 60s, early 70s, and the movement has never stopped. It’s just evolved. It is now 60 years later. That doesn’t mean that there’s a utopia in 60 years. And so we are constantly still striving just now under new conditions.”

Gathura encouraged local community members to get involved and have uncomfortable discussions to do their part to preserve King’s legacy. The MLK Living Legacy committee is also focusing on supporting other local activist organizations and starting “Bites and Big Talks” where community members can discuss assimilation, cultural identity and the meaning of community.

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