Cincinnati’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day – A Student Perspective


Lexie Crawford

The marchers take their first steps, heading from the Freedom Center to Fountain Square.

     On Monday, January 21st, I attended the 44th Annual Commemorative March in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.. As an aspiring photojournalist, I figured this would be a meaningful experience to document.

     The day held a variety of events, the first of which was the King Legacy Breakfast, starting at 8:00 A.M. at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Afterwards, the March began at the Freedom Center at 10:30 A.M..

     As I walked to the entrance of the Freedom Center, bundled up people holding signs and grinning in anticipation flooded in. The lobby of the freedom center acted as a warming station for those who arrived early.

     By 10:30, the lobby was packed.

     After an organizer came in to say it was time to meet out front, everyone gathered on the steps of the Freedom Center to listen to speakers and partake in the Interfaith Prayer Service. The crowd was silent, minus mumblings of prayers, as the speakers’ voices rang out.

     10:30 to 11:00 A.M. was a very meaningful moment. I was able to capture raw emotions that hung on faces like those same people’s silence in the air. (See photo gallery.)

     The next experience, the March, was just as meaningful, although it had far more volume. People and their banners lined up in the street on the corner of Rosa Parks Street and Second Street East and held their position for a moment. Photographers, including myself, scattered in front of the gathering to get shots of the marchers’ first steps.

     Once everyone started walking, chants began as well. I hurried through the crowd to capture smiling faces, proud of the action they were taking. Even with freezing temperatures, warmth was spread through the community of marchers.

     By the time we reached Fountain Square, I had already filled up a roll of film and had taken about 100 digital pictures. After the time I spent at Fountain Square, my count of photos had about doubled.

     I left after the Fountain Square event, but most of the marchers continued to Music Hall. At the Music Hall Commemoration, keynote speaker Reverend Derek Terry gave a speech and the award-winning MLK Chorale and Wordplay Cincy Scribes were featured.

     Overall, this was an amazing experience not only to photograph, but to experience. Seeing people of all different races, cultures, and genders joined together with love and pride showed me a new side of our world. A side where different people can get along and march for remembrance and change.