DEARBORN HEIGHTS/WESTLAND — In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, both Dearborn Heights and Westland hosted walks of service.
In Westland, the city hosted its 21st annual march in honor of Dr. King.
“We usually see about 200 people each year,” Mayor Bill Wild said. “We have a commitment to having a welcoming city and not discriminating against anyone. The city is actually currently looking for a director of diversity and inclusion to help be a part of the administration and we have a board that meets every month to identify improvement opportunities.”
During the event, Wayne County Sheriff Raphael “Ray” Washington acted as the keynote speaker.
“I was absolutely honored to be a part of this year’s celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy,” Washington said. “There is so much work to be done, but I truly believe events like this one make an impact. The day is called a ‘day on, not a day off’ for very good reason. It’s a day meant to gather, reflect and bridge barriers in our communities and this event brought us together to honor a true icon.”
Washington also said that he felt the event went well.
“The event was empowering and emotional,” he said. “I hope community members left feeling hopeful for the future, but also prepared to put in the work to give a better tomorrow to our younger generations. We definitely need to keep fighting the fight and we need to keep talking about the dream for the generations coming up behind us. We need to continue doing the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. daily. He did his best. We need to do our best as well.”
In Dearborn Heights, the Community and Cultural Relations Commission (CCRC) hosted the walk of service.
“The walk visually and spiritually embodied most of what Dr. King lived, breathed and was assassinated for — diversity, integration, solidarity and unity,” CCRC Chairperson Latanya Gater said. “We walked today, loud and proud, from all different religions, political sides, socioeconomic classes, ages and races, chanting, ‘We want voting rights’ and ‘No justice, no peace.’”
Gater also said it’s important to not only speak King’s words, but to do more.
“We must remember to not only speak Dr. King’s words, but to echo his actions in challenging systems of inequality and injustice,” she said. “What we did in Dearborn Heights today was a great testament of what we can do when we advocate as a collective for democracy. Individually, please continue to study and live out Dr. King’s legacy like your lives depend on it. Our children’s lives most certainly do.”
Mayor Bill Bazzi said that Dr. King’s message resonated with everyone.
“Despite the bitter cold weather, MLK’s message of unity and community resonated with each collective step we took,” he said. “Thank you to everyone who came together, from every part of our city, to participate in the MLK Day Walk in Dearborn Heights. We appreciate this positive, educational initiative presented by our Dearborn Heights Community and Cultural Relations Commissions and District 7 Schools. Thank you to our Dearborn Heights Police and Fire Departments for securing a safe route and participating alongside.”
Council Chairman Dave Abdallah said that the event had a lot more meaning to him.
“I came here in 1976 from Lebanon and being an immigrant during that time, MLK’s legacy means a lot to me in terms of equal rights,” he said. “I’ve always been impressed with him and what he stood for. Anything done for that man is not enough to reciprocate for the work that he did for equality for all.”