The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day marches in St. Paul and Minneapolis went on as scheduled Monday despite bitter cold. The numbers may have been smaller than usual, but the message was loud and clear: Better wages, an end to foreclosures and equality.
In St. Paul, marchers made the block and a half trek to Central High School where they were treated to sermons, speeches and a youth choir that charmed the crowd.
Minneapolis marchers included Occupy Homes, Idle No More, SEIU Local 26 and members of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. They took their chants to the indoor city skyways and their connected department stores, stopping at US Bank and Target Corp., headquarters along the way to call for fairer wages and an end to foreclosures.
Anthony Newby of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, told the crowd that it may be cold but at least most had a warm place to sleep at night. Some, he said, do not.
“It’s cold. It’s cold,” said Newby emphatically. “And the main thing is that there are people out here every day living in these type of conditions. We have big banks and corporations trying to take away people’s stability, take away their jobs and take away their housing.”
Embattled homeowner Rose McGee also braved the cold. She has become the face of the foreclosure crisis at the Capitol as lawmakers debate legislation to prevent dual tracking, a banking practice that McGee was a victim of when she tried to save her Golden Valley home last year, negotiating with her bank even as the bank secretly began foreclosure proceedings.
“The reason we’re here today is because of a man who gave the ultimate,” McGee told the MLK marchers. “Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life so that nobody would have to be out in the streets in the cold,” Rose told the crowd inside the Hennepin County Government Center.
The rally ended with a rousing rendition of “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Turn Me ‘Round,” a Civil Rights anthem sung during Dr. King’s sit-ins and marches as he led the demand for civil rights.