United Auto Workers locals in Ohio, including Locals 12 and 14 in Toledo and Local 211 in Defiance, will send busloads of union members to Detroit on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the city’s Freedom March down Woodward Avenue.
The original event on June 23, 1963, featured civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and NAACP leaders who marched arm in arm with then-UAW president Walter Reuther, a key supporter of Mr. King. Other UAW officials joined the march and together they led a crowd of 125,000 along Woodward to support civil rights.
The walk down Woodward culminated with Mr. King giving a speech that would become a precursor to his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during a national “March on Washington” in August, 1963.
Saturday’s remembrance will be sponsored by the Detroit branch of the NAACP, the UAW, and numerous other religious, civic, and community organizations.
Included will be Dr. King’s son, Martin Luther King III, national NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and activist Dick Gregory.
Participants will follow the same route, starting north of downtown Detroit and following Woodward south to a rally at Hart Plaza near the Detroit waterfront.
“We have many milestones to celebrate since Dr. King walked Detroit’s streets some 50 years ago,” UAW International Vice President Jimmy Settles said in a statement. “But we are asking that everyone ‘take a step’ towards finding solutions as we go forward, and the anniversary celebration is a good place to start.”
Locally, the UAW is sending buses to the rally so that its Toledo and Defiance area members can participate.
Buses depart from Local 12, at 2300 Ashland Ave., and Local 14, at 5411 Jackman Rd., at 7:15 a.m. A bus will depart from Local 211 in Defiance at 6 a.m.