Story provided by City of Stillwater and Stillwater Public Library
Stillwater Community United is planning a relay march through town on Monday, Jan 18, in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to show support for racial unity within the community. Due to public health concerns, there will not be a large, indoor gathering, as there has been in past years. However, Stillwater Community United, the non-profit group that plans Stillwater’s MLK Day activities, wanted to find an innovative way to mark the day and celebrate the unity that King’s dream represents. They have designed plans for an outdoor, relay march through Stillwater.
The march will begin at Southern Woods Park at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. A small group of individuals will march, carrying a banner, to the next location on the route, the Stillwater Public Library. The first group will hand off the banner to the new group at the library who will walk to the next location before passing the banner on. The march will progress in the same manner through downtown, up Duck St., and over to OSU campus, where the marchers will hand the banner off to students outside Spears School of Business on Hester St. at 2 p.m.
Having small groups each completing a short portion of the march will allow for safe distancing between participants, which is important during widespread community transmission of the coronavirus. The relay aspect of the march has a larger symbolic meaning as well, though. Soha Elfeel, a member of Stillwater Community United and the original planner for the march, said “I visualize this march as a movement of diverse groups towards each other, to reach out, and support each other in a show of solidarity. It is a symbol of collaboration where we all play a small role to complete a larger action.”
Stillwater Police Chief Jeff Watts agreed. “With numerous groups being involved in the march, we are expressing our commitment to being a united city. We are demonstrating that we recognize and appreciate the importance of Dr. King’s work and that we are committed to making his dream and our dreams unite.”
Watts, who is also a member of Stillwater Community United, added that the Stillwater Police Department is committed to helping fulfill the legacy of Dr. King on MLK Day and beyond.
“Martin Luther King Day is an opportunity for us to show that we are committed to strengthening our relationships with our minority community members,” Watts continued. “We can never rest on what we have achieved. Racial equality is much like our constitutional rights. We have to think about them, not just every day, but throughout each day.”
The public is invited to come watch the Martin Luther King Day march on Jan. 18 to show that they share King’s dream of racial justice and unity. There is enough space along the 2-mile route for individuals and families to come with signs of support, while maintaining safe social distances. The Stillwater Police Department will provide commemorative face masks to be distributed to individuals along the route, while supplies last. Attendees must already be wearing a face covering to receive one of the commemorative masks. Details of the route and estimates of the time the marchers will pass specific locations are available at http://library.stillwater.org/mlk_day.php. Individuals interested in marching should contact one of the participating organizations listed on the website. For other questions or additional information, email StillwaterCommunityUnited@gmail.com or call the library Help Desk at (405) 372-3633 x8106.
The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.