Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Unity Day Brings Spirit of Oneness to Tuscaloosa as Marchers Honor MLK

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Unity Day Brings Spirit of Oneness to Tuscaloosa as Marchers Honor MLK

Article excerpt

With the recorded voice of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. echoing off the walls of downtown buildings, thousands of people marched to Tuscaloosa's Government Plaza on Monday for the annual Unity Day celebration.

Organized for years by the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the march, which started at the elementary school named for King, is one of several events the SCLC has used for years to honor King's legacy.

It also serves as a chance for residents to remind themselves of the efforts that were made by people of various races to achieve civil rights for all Americans.

"I do it every year," said Tuscaloosa resident and march participant Tamara McKinstry.

McKinstry, a cousin of Councilwoman Sonya McKinstry, said she turns out for the march to honor the efforts of those who came before her.

This year, she said she hopes Unity Day celebrations across the nation have a galvanizing effect on all.

"I hope everybody gets together and learns to join into one," said McKinstry, 28.

Her sentiment was echoed by others in the crowd, which organizers estimated at 2,500 to 3,000.

From 14-year-old Bryant High School student M.J. Bates, who said he was at his fourth Unity Day march, to University of Alabama students Shanley Carlton and Connor Ciment, who were joining in their first celebration, all said they wanted residents across the country to see this as an opportunity for healing.

"I think we would all like to live in a world where there's one Alabama, one Tuscaloosa," said Ciment, borrowing from the introductory prayer given by the Rev. Ransey O. Daniel, pastor of Christ Baptist Church. "I just see this as a step in that direction."

Stillman College student Horace Smith didn't take part in the march, but he said it was important for him to be at Government Plaza for the celebration.

Smith also was attending his first Unity Day event, which he said has the ability to bring people of all races together not just for a day, but all year. …

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