Rally commemorates Martin Luther King Jr.
Issue date: 2/8/10
Representing civil rights and equality was a risk that would have
caused the ultimate sacrifice 40 years ago, said the president of the
SJSU African American Faculty and Staff Association.
"There would have been several people shot for being in this march,"
Oscar Battle said. "Your houses would have been bombed last night or
tonight because you were going to be in this march."
To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggles he
encountered, a Freedom March was held Saturday at the Martin Luther
King Jr. Library, on South Fourth and San Fernando Streets, from noon
until 2 p.m.
"It's not a black theme, it's an American theme," Battle said.
Battle hosted the march that had more than 100 people in attendance
for what he said were three reasons.
"Number one, it gives people a chance to physically get together,
various races and ethnic groups, to participate in raising issues in
some of the things that King was concerned about," he said.
"Secondly, the march gives people a chance to have your banners up
and tell the world 'I'm for women's (liberation),' 'I'm for
equality.' It gives the community a chance to see your issues.
"Third point about the march itself is that it gives (the speakers) a
chance to be activated based upon what (they're) doing at the
beginning of the speech," Battle said. "It gives you a chance to be
philosophically grounded... it gives a chance to be regrounded."
Lisa Perez, a junior behavioral science major, said she attended the
march so her children could experience what it feels like to stand
"To me it represents equal rights, a lot of us go through different
things... it just stands for that we're not going to be quiet about
it, that we're actually going to stand up for something we believe
in," she said. "We have a right to be equal."
Sophomore kinesiology major Sara Cortez said her freedom means
equality for all.
Khaira Mohmand, who is from Afghanistan, is a 15-year-old high school
student from University Preparatory Academy and was one of the
speakers to begin the march.
While standing at the microphone with marchers surrounding her,
Mohmand asked her audience members, with her voice shaking and tears
hesitantly falling down her cheeks, to hold their neighbor's hand and
then look at one another and say "I love you," to show that love will
Rain poured while the marchers held banners and signs representing
what they stood for.
Throughout the march Battle yelled into his loudspeaker "I have a
dream," and marchers would shout out "We are the dream."
"Who controls your future?" Battle asked, the marchers replied with
"We control our future!"
Marching through SJSU and toward the Cesar Chavez Memorial Arch in
front of the A.S. Print Shop, Battle has the marchers stop walking
and reminds them of what Chavez stood for and that without farmers,
there would be no food.
"Those are the basic necessities of life that we need to pay tribute
to," he said.
Battle said the significance of the Freedom March was the potential
sacrifice people were asked to make in the early days of the civil
"It wasn't just the time people put into the march, but the
sacrifices they made known if they contribute, they may lose their
lives," he said.
After paying their respects at the arch, Battle led the marchers to
the Tommie Smith and John Carlos Statue continuing to call out, "I
have a dream" followed by the response, "We are the dream."
The two Olympic winners could have simply received their medals and
walked away, but Carlos and Smith wanted to make civil rights known,
The last stop ended where the speeches and the march began, at the
"I think it's important to hold these kind of occasions, to at least
keep (African-Americans in mind)," said a junior pre-nursing major
Battle said some people may say that King was just about black
issues, but said look at King's behavior would reveal that he stood
for freedom and justice for all and building relationships with everyone.
"We may look different, we may feel different, our injuries are
different, but we're all American," he said.