Hundreds marched through the streets of San Francisco Monday in a push for equality.
On the 34th Martin Luther King Jr. Day, demonstrators poured through the City, as they chanted:
“No justice, no peace!”
Mayor London Breed, state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and local community leaders kicked off the march near the Caltrain 4th Street station.
Kris Valarezo, 24, who came out to support the message of civil rights equality that MLK stood for, said:
“I think it’s beautiful that a lot of people are still keeping that type of idea in mind…”
“It means a lot to me personally just to say that I was in an event with such a bigger, overlining mission.”
He also spoke about the need for daily empathy and equity in access to resources across all communities.
As they crossed the bridge on Fourth Street, demonstrators broke out into “We Shall Overcome,” in commemoration of the civil rights movement.
Dozens of grade-age and high school students flooded 3rd Street as the march turned towards Market Street, many donning black T-shirts with MLK quotes highlighted in white.
Elected officials and members of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, among others, led the crossing of the Lefty O’Doul Bridge on Third Street, symbolically representing the activists who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama and who were brutally attacked by law enforcement.
Michael Smith, a graduate student doing Ph.D work at San Francisco State University, was one of the hundreds who marched.
“I just wanted to be here to show my appreciation for the thoughts and ideologies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Smith, 63, said he participated in the group Equity and Social Justice, which allowed him to explore facets of many underserved communities. He said being part of the group helped him recognize that gay rights were civil rights, and opened his eyes up to non-binary genders. He said that as an urban educator, he has a responsibility to fulfill MLK’s dream.
Smith said he works to:
“(Make) sure that people in the lower economic status than say, the middle class, that they’re getting their education and receiving those rights that we sometimes neglect or don’t think we have.”
The march ended with a rally at Yerba Buena Gardens where Mayor Breed recalled how important a role community played in her upbringing. She called on demonstrators to be politically involved, encouraging people to register to vote and participate in the U.S. census.
After students spoke about how Dr. King’s ideas intertwined with their respective faiths and religions, Mattie Scott, a march organizer and San Francisco Interfaith Council member, led a call-and-response chant to remind the crowd of why they gathered:
“I’m the dream for Dr. King! You’re the dream for Dr. King!”