Today, on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, I attended a walk and rally in honor of Dr. King’s work. Organized by Minnesota North College-Mesabi Equity and Inclusion committee, folks from across the Iron Range braved the -35 degree wind chill to participate.
In addition to a commemorative mile walk on the Iron Trail Motors Convention Center (ITMCC) indoor track and a line up of local and state speakers, the event included face-painting, a bounce house and free popcorn.
Parents brought their children. Jen Gigliotti, a Chisholm parent and partner in 30 West Fitness and Recreation, said, “the kids were off for the holiday. So this morning we read books about Martin Luther King and then we came to this event!”
On the upper deck of the ITMCC rink (the course for the commemorative walk), birthday letters to Dr. King created by Mrs. Reid’s 2nd grad class at Parkview were posted on the walls.
A few examples (spelling as featured in the letter):
“Happy Birth-Day Dr King! I have a dream that you Dr King was still here. And that bullys werent a thing and we could stop and figer it out to stop them bullys. And help people in need.” signed, Chloe
“Dear Dr. King, I would change the world by being kind. Happy birthday,” wrote Mikai.
“Happy Birthday. I have a (b)ream that evrebudy is fare and cinde. and shareflu. and I don’t kare about peplle’s skin if it’s brown” –unsigned
“Happy Birthday. I have a dream that everone has a house and food and water and a nice life. When I knew that black and whites were not treted the same I was confused. have a nice life, Izayou
“I have a dream girls will be treated the same as everyone else. Happy Birthday Dr. King!” signed Amelia H
Lately I am in a lot of conversations around welcoming and inclusion on the Range. Employers, the college, and governmental entities express desire to help new Iron Rangers (or potential residents) feel welcome. As I looked around the room at today’s event, I thought–all these people bundled up and drove here to support this gathering.
Event keynote speaker Dr. Timothy Berry shared that the word “community” is made up of “commune–” “to share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with (someone),” and “unity–” “the state of being united or joined as a whole.” Today was one of those days where we saw Iron Range “community” in action.