Toledoans honored the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. today through song and speeches during the 13th annual unity celebration at the University of Toledo.
The civil rights leader, born this month in 1929 and assassinated in 1968, was remembered for his dream of equality for all people.
“Dr. King’s dream was rooted in the American dream…,” said Ray Wood, president of the Toledo chapter of the NAACP, who delivered the event’s keynote speech. “Dr. King believed in one race, and that was the human race, and he knew that this world was made for all men.”
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He led the audience in a chant, calling out "Yes, we can," words made famous in a 2008 speech by then-Senator Barack Obama, and encouraging the audience to respond "Yes, we will."
The program included rousing performances by the Toledo Interfaith Mass Choir and the Toledo Youth Choir that brought the audience to its feet and remarks from University of Toledo President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs and Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins.
Mr. Collins said participation in the holiday event is not enough; people must work toward reconciliation and social change.
“We have not accepted our responsibility to be a peoples of brotherhood and sisterhood and until that day comes we will never realize Dr. King’s dream,” Mr. Collins said. “Let us collectively and individually dedicate ourselves with the message Dr. King left us.”
Also during the event, Sam Robinson, a youth advocate with the YWCA of Northwest Ohio Youth Development Department, was recognized at the Unity Award winner for his work with young people.
The University of Toledo estimated the crowd and participants at 1,700, which includes a luncheon afterward.
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