Black Community, Others Celebrate MLK Day

Story By Dee Ford Byas PAhotos By Mike Powell

After an early morning march from Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, in Phoenix, people continued the trek on east Jefferson Street to meet for a day long festival at Margaret T. Hance Park on Jan. 17, celebrating the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I wanted to honor Martin Luther King and be around Black people and the culture and around the food,” said Char Alexander, 25.

She also said she wanted to spend time with her friends, Whitney Blue, 26, who she grew up with, and Stephanie Lamarche, 23.

“I just moved to Arizona and try to involve myself with the culture,” said Lamarche, who has been in New York but recently moved back home during the pandemic.

Hundreds of people came from near and far to partake of festivities that included fun bounce houses among children’s activities, food trucks, vendors and enjoyed showcased talent. Outside the perimeters, as people came and went, they were met by the lyrical words of Ray Wimley, known as the “Freestyle Savant.”

“I just wanted to come out and support. It’s a beautiful day to come out and support the youth,” said Brandy Jackson, whose daughter, Devyn Henderson, 12, performed with Da- vid’s Dance Troupe.

Jackson was surrounded by many with similar interests who wanted to support the local MLK Jr. event, socialize, learn about available community resources and opportunities. Attendees could socially distance throughout the entire park and grassy area to view the stage performances.

From voting to health information, lots of vendors had booths set up along the way as they gave out reading material, memorabilia and trinkets such as pens, bags and more. Some vendors even gave away masks and hand sanitizer as gifts for stopping by.

“We are providing education and COVID information based on CDC guidelines,” said LaTanya Mathis, media past president for the Black Nurses Association Greater Phoenix Area.

Excited to be present at the event, three USAA representatives were not only on hand to provide informational material about the credit union but to recruit during their first in person event since the pandemic began. While they sought to recruit for open positions, political candidates were vying for people’s vote.

“People come from all over to attend this event. It’s not just Phoenix residents,” said Tamara Floyd, who is running for Goodyear City Council. “It was important for us to meet as many people as we can meet to let them know we are running and making that change.”

She and Tamara Floyd are running for two of three open Goodyear City Council seats. They wanted to meet the public and encourage any residents of their district to allow them to be their voice.