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Hundreds march for ‘dream’

King’s famous speech recalled by the throng

Families, friends and neighbors turned out to march through the streets of Toppenish for the eighth annual Toppenish MLK Jr. Peace March Monday.

Photo by Julia Hart
Families, friends and neighbors turned out to march through the streets of Toppenish for the eighth annual Toppenish MLK Jr. Peace March Monday.


The Lord’s Prayer helped to open the peace march program Monday. Members of the Yakama Nation Behavioral Health Team made the presentation.


The Yakama Warriors Honor Guard led the procession Monday at the 8th annual Toppenish MLK Jr. peace march. Hundreds of walkers dressed warmly for the 16-block march from downtown to the middle school where a short program was presented commemorating the life of Dr. King.


The voices of the Garfield Elementary School choir performed as a part of the program held at the Middle School in honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day.

— The recorded voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s plea for justice filled the air Monday as hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the civil right activist.

The impassioned “I have a Dream” speech was as powerful Monday as it was when it was delivered in 1968.

His message was seen in the hundreds of hand-written posters carried by the marchers, reminding the others that “we are many colors but we all have the same dream one of liberty and justice.”

“I’m here helping my mom,” said Toppenish High School senior Joey Lopez. Lopez’s mom Rosa Ortiz was one of the lead organizers for the Monday walk, celebrated as “a day on not off.”

Lopez, along with his buddy Seth Tisalona, carried the Yakima Valley Farmer Workers Clinic banner. They were among the hundreds of walkers of all ages and colors who took to the streets for the 8th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace March.

Lopez’s mother, Rosa Ortiz, is the founder of the community walk.

“It was my dream to have us come together and mark this day,” she told the crowd who gathered at the middle school following the 16-block walk downtown. I’m so happy we are all here today to honor Dr. King”.

Other dreams were discussed including that of School Superintendent John Cerna, who shared his dream of becoming a teacher, even though he started his work life as a farm worker.

“I never started out dreaming that one day I would be the superintendent of schools, but it happened,” he told the more than 300 people who braved the chilly morning peace march.

“Education helped me here and that was one of Dr. King’s messages, — get an education," Cerna said.

Dr. Andrew Sund of Heritage University said there were two things that Dr. King wanted people to fight for, what was right, but in a peaceful way and to make life work to make our communities places of progress, dedicated to liberty and justice for all.

“It’s hard to imagine that just 50 years ago, not all men and women in this great country were treated equal,” he said.

“We must work to ensure that all people are treated equally in the future,” Sund said.

The marchers also heard a prerecorded message form Gov. Jay Inslee who congratulated the community for its awareness and for respecting the rights of all people.

The Toppenish High and Middle School bands performed. A stirring rendition of the “Lord’s Prayer” was presented by the Yakama Nation Behavioral Heath Team and choral numbers from the Garfield Elementary School and the high school audition Choir.


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