Participants in a march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day head up Eighth Street on Monday in the final phase of their walk that ended at Eastern Oregon University. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Martin Luther King Jr. did not do it alone.
That was the message Jamarkus Springfield, president of the Black Student Union at Eastern Oregon University, had during a short rally at Max Square late Monday morning commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“Martin Luther King did many great things, but he did not do them by himself,” Springfield said. “It starts with collaboration. It takes all of us standing up together to say discrimination is not OK.”
Discrimination is not OK and neither is bullying, stressed Bud Hill, who also spoke at rally. Hill is a close friend of the family of Jadin Bell, the 15-year-old La Grande High School sophomore who died last February from injuries suffered in a suicide attempt. Jadin Bell, who was openly gay, was driven to his suicide attempt by bullying, according to family and friends.
“The community was devastated,” Hill said.
Hill said that people need to take it upon themselves to step up and stop bullying activity when they see it.
The issue of health care and the importance of having it available to people at all levels of society was also addressed at the rally. Bill Whitaker of La Grande noted that King was very concerned about health care. He read a quote from a talk MLK gave at the second annual convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights to illustrate his point.
“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane,” Whitaker quoted King as saying.
Whitaker read the quote from a sign he later carried in the march. At least 50 people participated in the march, which went east on Adams Avenue before turning south and ending at EOU.
The march was followed by a program on diversity at EOU’s Ackerman Hall. The program featured a presentation by Donald Easton-Brooks, dean of Eastern’s colleges of education and business. Brooks said that all of us are blessed and that these blessings are privileges we need to use to make the world a better place.