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Rally to Commemorate Dr Martin Luther King



Postponed from last month due to poor weather, the Rally to Commemorate Dr Martin Luther King was held at the Roger Williams National Memorial on Saturday, drawing a crowd of about 200 people at its peak. The rally is a result of a large discussion called by Rhode Island Jobs With Justice (RI JWJ) in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville last year. The rally was organized by Sankofa Community Connection, March for Racial Justice Rhode Island and RI JWJ.

“We discussed how we could bring an anti-racist, anti-oppression lens to the work of labor organizing, community organizing,” said Mike Araujo, executive director of RI JWJ. “But most importantly, we had seen a couple of things happen over the past couple of years things which were really pretty disturbing for us. Which was when activist were defending black life or going to challenge police, we were seeing Dr King being used as a weapon against people… He was reduced to four words, and not to a real challenge.. We wanted to reclaim this more radical vision of Dr King as a labor organizer, as a civil rights activist, and as a true revolutionary.”

Jim Vincent, president of the NAACP Providence Branch:

Dr Mark Ryan from the Physicians for a National Health Program:

Matthew Maini from Teamsters Local 251 discusses the DHL strike in Pawtucket:

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John Burns of AFSCME Local 94:

Jean Marrapodi of the Providence Assembly of God:

Community organizer Marjorie Waters works on senior care issues:

Heiny Maldonado is the executive director of Fuerza Laboral:

A musical interlude from Nancy Hood and Barry Brown with the East Bay Citizens for Peace:

Reverend Ebony Grisom of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival:

Ricardo Pitts-Wiley of Mixed Magic Theater reads excerpts from the Letter from Birmingham Jail:

Sarath Suong, executive director of the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM):

Malchus Mills, from Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) speaks about the Providence rent control ordinance the group is working to turn into a referendum:

Housing activist, writer, and revolutionary Asata Tigra:

Cristina da Fonseca, executive director of Southcoast Fair Housing:

Paul Rakotoarisoa from the Providence Democratic Socialists of America speaks about the group’s Nationalize Grid campaign, to bring electricity production and transmission back to the people:

Paul Smith, a worker in the Baha’i Faith says a prayer:

Niko Merritt from the Sankofa Community Connection in Newport:

Closing out with a song:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.