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Marchers echo King's message of peace, justice

Hundreds turn out to celebrate MLK Day

More than 400 people marched from the University of Arizona Mall to Reid Park on Monday to remember and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

“It’s important — there’s nothing more important than justice and equality,” Tucsonan Angelique Tadeo, 45, said.

Tadeo and her grandchildren have been coming to the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march since the youngest, 7-year-old Gabriel, was old enough to walk the distance.

Despite overcast skies and sprinkles of rain, participants assembled at 8:30 a.m. to hear speakers, including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

"We are the living march, the living struggle. Dr. King's name and memory keeps us going,” Rothschild said.

Some carried signs bearing positive messages like “Love not hate.” Other signs called for an end to war and corporate greed.   

Supporters of Tucson Unified School District’s recently terminated ethnic studies program could also be found throughout the crowd. They carried signs that read, “Honor Dr. King! Defend Mexican American studies!”  and “Save America’s history.’

Upon arriving at Reid Park, marchers were lead in prayer and song. Both the national anthem and "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," also known as the black national anthem, were performed.

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"This is very much a living legacy, we have challenges to overcome,” said U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Tucson. Among the challenges, he listed economic disparity and a divided community.

“How do we take the beautiful diversity in this community and turn it to strength,” Grijalva asked.

The speeches reflected King’s messages of love, equality and justice and also were a call to action.

“The holiday is only a mile marker, there is work yet to be done,” said Tucson businessman Carl Bedford Jr., the master of ceremonies.

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Mariana Dale/TucsonSentinel.com

Marchers make their way down the UA mall toward Campbell.