Photos | MLK Walk for Peace sends message to young people

URBANA -- Late Monday morning on January 17, just over 100 walkers came together to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Speakers also talked about the work in the community that still needs to be done, especially with a focus on the escalation of gun violence not only in the Champaign-Urbana area but around the country.

"What we want to utilize (this day) for is not only to commemorate him but to actually put a highlight on some of the things going on now in our own communities," said Maurice Hayes, Executive Director of HV Neighborhood Transformation. "We are facing the pandemic of gun violence and death in all of our high hope areas. We want to take this opportunity to let our kids know we are riding with them the same way Dr. King road for us."

The MLK Walk for Peace was a collaboration between HV Neighborhood Transformation, Urbana Rotary Club, Housing Authority of Champaign County/YouthBuild, Urbana Free Library and Park District, as well as the City of Urbana.

Hayes told the audience he and others have made their life's purpose to saving kids from the gun violence seen "every day in Champaign-Urbana, and in every high hope area across the United States of America."

"This, too, has to be a reason we stand and fight. This too has to be a reason why we march," he said. "This, too, has to be a purpose-driven mission that we as a community must take on ourselves. We stand with these young people."

Walkers set out from Crestview Park in Urbana along Cottage Grove for the 2022 MLK Walk for Peace on Monday. A diverse group of children and adults of all ages used the walk to Larson Park to discuss issues of concern and what they can do to improve life in the Champaign-Urbana community.
Photo: PhotoNews Media

MLK Walkers
Despite frigid temperatures on Monday, peaceful walkers reach Larson Park in Urbana where they heard a brief presentation from Maurice Hayes, Executive Director of HV Neighborhood Transformations, and Youth Build student Asia Mitchell.
Photo: PhotoNews Media

Maurice Hayes
Maurice Hayes gives a keynote speech at Larson Park. Hayes told the gathering, "Today, we tell him thank you. Today, we show a small bit of sacrifice being out here in this cold to the major sacrifice not only he but a bunch of others showed in the betterment of our lives. So we thank Dr. King and we say God Bless you, continue to rest in heaven and continue to rest peacefully."
Photo: PhotoNews Media

MLK Walk for Peace
Participants at the march stay socially distant while singing an impromptu rendition of Lift Up Every Voice and Sing during the rally at Larson Park.
Photo: PhotoNews Media

Asia Mitchell talks at the Urbana MLK Walk for Peace
During her talk, Asia Mitchell told listeners that Dr. Martin Luther King civil rights movement was an inspiration to her. "We are living his dream," she said. " There is still a lot of violence and crime, but we live in freedom. It is a free world. He had a dream all this nonsense would go away. Even though it is still here, as a family we are still making it work."
Photo: PhotoNews Media

"We have to know how to lead them and where we are leading them to," Hayes said about the future of young people of today. "So often our kids are misled by the some of the wrong things. It's going to take us as adults in the room to lead them in a different direction to prosperity and to grow success."
Photo: PhotoNews Media

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