Peace marches on

Students and community members came together at the Monroe History Museum Jan. 22 for a peace march through downtown Monroe to St. Mary’s Park in celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

The march brought together over 40 people of all ages and races to celebrate civil rights as a community.

Katie Hemwall, a 17-year-old Jefferson High School student, said she came to the march because she was asked by her Upward Bound adviser.

Jefferson high School student Katie Hemwall joins friends inside Monroe County Museum, awaiting the march.

“If I had the chance, I would ask Dr. King if what we’re doing today is right, or at least if he thinks what we’re doing has been successful,” Hemwall said.

Hemwall said she was excited to take part in this march because it is important to promote the idea of community and participating in it.

Hemwall said she is glad events like the march are happening in smaller communities.

Peter Coomar, dean of technology for MCCC, also took part in the march.

Having been a citizen of the United States for 30 years, Coomar said he recognizes the importance of large institutions remembering peace.

A year ago, Coomar said he participated in a peace march with his daughter that followed multiple school shootings. He said in times like these, peace is an important legacy to the U.S. that we must uphold.

“Peace marches help raise the visibility of issues, but we’re far from understanding each other,” said Bonnie Weber, of Dundee.

“It’s interesting that Martin Luther King is more popular in other countries than here, where he was fighting to make change,” Weber said.

Weber said she grew up in North Frankenmuth, where there was not any diversity and learned about the civil rights movement when she attended Michigan State University.

Bonnie Weber, local activist, shows her support by teaching Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” in her Sunday School classes.

Ever since college, she has been an activist and believes Dr. King’s message remains a big deal, teaching his “I Have a Dream” speech in her Sunday school classes.

Weber wasn’t the only person inspired by King’s speeches.

Jim Ross, an employee of MCCC who attended the event, said he had participated in peace marches at the college before, hoping to aid in bringing together the community.

“The more you bring people together in the name of peace, the more people are reminded peace is a goal, globally and as a community,” Ross said.