Marietta takes time to remember Martin Luther King Jr.
The man would have been 92 years old on Friday.
But 54 years ago this coming April, he was assassinated.
Three days later, more than 400 Marietta residents and Marietta College students silently marched from Dawes Library at 1:30 p.m. and walked four abreast from Fifth Street to Putnam, down Putnam Street to East Muskingum Park.
(Photo courtesy of the Special Collections of the Marietta College Legacy Library)
Gathering at the Start Westward Monument, the crowd sang “When Jesus Wept.”
“When Jesus wept, the falling tear. In mercy flowed beyond all bound; When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear. Seized all the guilty world around.”
Eleven months before he was killed, the man they wept for had been greeted by then-Marietta College President Frank Duddy and shown to a pulpit in the Ban Johnson Field House sharing “The Future of Integration.”
(Photos courtesy of the Special Collections of the Marietta College Legacy Library)
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a crowd of 3,000 that March 1967 day in Marietta.
“It would be a wonderful thing if speakers all over our country could talk about the problem of racial injustice in terms of a problem that once existed but no longer exists,” he shared in that speech. “You see, a fact is merely the absence of contradiction, but truth is the presence of coherence. Truth is the relatedness of facts. Now it is a fact that we have come a long, long way, but it isn’t the whole truth. And if I stopped at this point, I am afraid I would leave you the victims of an illusion wrapped in superficiality, we would all go away the victims of dangerous optimism … I know that there are people who say to civil rights leaders and persons working for civil rights ‘You are pushing things too fast; you must slow up for a while.’ and then they have a way of saying: ‘Now just be nice and be patient and continue to pray, and in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out, because only time can solve the problem.'”
Fifty-three years and 11 days after that speech in Southeast Ohio, another Southeast Ohio native was part of the raid that killed 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in her bed while she was asleep in Louisville, Ky.
This past fall, a resident of Logan, contrasted that death and the small town’s tie to one of the officers with that of the fallout Black police officer Chris Smith, of the Logan City Police Department, having utilized a taser to subdue a Marietta woman at a middle school football game.
See a future edition of the Times for that contrast.
Fifty-two years and 51 days after King’s assassination, the knee of another law enforcement officer concluded the life of another Black man as he cried out for his mother.
Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost hosted an all-day human trafficking summit online.
See a future edition of the Times for coverage of the more than 15 topics covered in that summit.
But one of the workshops, offered by Morgan Whiting, considered colorblindness.
“Think about some of the times that you’ve heard those statements: ‘I don’t see color, we’re all equal,'” she challenged.
“By being colorblind you eliminate the real experiences that people that look like me have that is rooted in the color of their skin … being pulled over [and having] the fear of staying alive or not staying alive in that situation. You can also rid people of joy … the positive things that they have rooted in experiences they have, because of the color of their skin.”
Dr. Felix Burrows, 81, of Marietta, lives where he can see the same bricks that the Marietta community walked across as they silently marched to weep the death of Dr. King 52 years ago.
“I think something should be done when Martin Luther King’s birthday comes up, and the 15th of January? That’s a day,” he said Friday. “We need that every day.”
Burrows is a Black man.
He said he is tired, after years of bearing the torch for white, brown and Black people to see each other as human beings.
“What they want is to make it a ritual,” he said. “Well, it’s now getting around the Martin Luther King (holiday) let’s see what Black person we can get to come up and make a statement.”
Janelle Patterson may be reached at email@example.com.