When the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was held more than 50 years ago, not all the faces in the large crowd were black.
“There were white people, Hispanic people and black people,” said Christyn Breathett, education director for the Kansas African American Museum. “It was about jobs and laws – some of the same things we’re concerned about today.
“It was a unity thing.”
Unity also will be the theme of Saturday’s events in Wichita that lead to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday – right down to the logo, which has a diverse color of interlocking hands.
Saturday’s events will include a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. at Christian Faith Centre on South Broadway; a downtown parade at 10 a.m.; a community event at 11 a.m. at the museum, where participants will make fleece blankets for a shelter; and a 7 p.m. celebration and gospel concert at St. Mark United Methodist Church.
The crowning moment of the Washington march on Aug. 28, 1963, was King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. But organizers want to remind children that King’s civil rights efforts went beyond that memorable speech.
So in between the breakfast and parade at the church, children will be able to attend breakout sessions to learn about the movement and what King represented, said Wade Moore, pastor at Christian Faith Centre.
All of those events are sponsored by the museum and other community groups.
On Monday, Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor for the University of Kansas, will be the featured speaker at a citywide celebration that starts at noon at Wichita State University’s Hughes Metropolitan Complex, 29th Street North and Oliver. That event is sponsored by the Greater Wichita Ministerial League.
Participants in Saturday’s events will need to purchase a $3 button, Breathett said. The money goes to help support the museum. No button is required for Monday’s citywide celebration.
While past buttons have had a picture of King, this year’s button will display the interlocking hands.
“A lot of people think Martin Luther King Day is only for black people,” Breathett said, “but it embodies so much more. We’re trying to bring everyone together, so it’s not just a black history event. It’s everyone’s event.
“That’s the way we move up as a people, as a human race.”