MLK Peace Walk and Parade. (HU News Service)
Sprinkled between the antique motor clubs, community groups, marching bands and Dance Warriors in Anacostia’s colorful, exuberant 9th Annual Martin Luther King Peace Walk and Parade were a number of politicians and political hopefuls, who shook hands, shouted chants and sung hymns rooted in the Civil Rights Movement.
Among the notables were some of the dozen of candidates hoping to replace former mayor and Ward 8 City Councilman Marion Barry, who died in November.
The hopefuls included LaRuby May, who resided and worked in the ward for 13 years; Christopher Barry, son of Marion Barry; Trayon White, a supervisor in the Department of Parks and Recreation; Eugene Kinlow, co-host of WPFW’s DC Politics Hour; and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Anthony Muhammad.
Several used the march to show their faces to the community and get into the full swing of campaign season.
White, 29, was no exception. A former Ward 8 representative on the D.C. State Board of Education, White said he was marching for the youth. He stressed that stopping violence comes from within oneself and said he hopes to spread that message over the course of the Peace Walk.
“Young people are looking for identity and looking for leadership,” he said. “They are looking for someone to follow, and we’re making sure they follow the right path.”
Kinlow said Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday is a day on, not a day off. The Southeast Washington D.C. native currently works as a strategist at a community advocacy and strategy firm, said he has strong political and activist roots in the community.
Kinlow said he is working on honoring King’s dream of equality by pulling the ward from being “last for everything” and changing its reception.
The candidates said that the parade isn’t about their agenda or just about King. It’s about the community.
“It’s about what his legacy means for the community,” said May, former head of the DC Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. “It shows our community that although we have different paths of getting there, we’re all headed in the same direction of peace and unity in our community.”
The political hopefuls worked the crowd, shaking hands and waving despite a bitter wind chill and soggy ground from the previous day’s rain. There were also instances where parents brought their children to watch the parade pass in lawn chairs. The audience chanted along with walkers “Stop Violence!” “No Racist Police!” A live Go-Go band played from a truck, leaving behind dancing feet as it rolled along.
Some even signed a petition or two to get a name on the ballot, but most stayed focused on celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and having fun with their friends and family.