As they marched down Market Street, they sang.
“We shall overcome.”
“We shall overcome.”
The group of about 30 people, black and white, held signs saying “Black Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter” and “Courage, Strength, Love and a Dream.”
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The “dream” was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, a vision of social justice and togetherness that the Rev. Sterling Freeman and the other marchers strove to hold up on Monday.
Freeman and his congregation at First Missionary Baptist Church in Smithfield organized the second annual walk, which included both church members and other area residents.
The church added the march last year, and it precedes a worship service First Missionary has hosted for more than a decade.
“It helps us conjure the spirit of King and creates an environment and context that, in a small way, helps us to engage in an experience that would have us remember what it was like in the Civil Rights movement and use that as an open door to help us remember,” Freeman said.
After gathering at the corner of Fifth and Market streets, church member Angela Bynum practiced some of the songs with the group.
“Try it this way,” she said, singing the notes higher, then higher again.
Smithfield Town Councilman Marlon Lee was there. “It’s important that we not only remember (King) today but every day,” he said.
Freeman, who has been pastor at First Missionary for five years, agrees with Lee. For instance, the church is organizing a series of workshops, titled “State of Our Children,” that will encourage residents to talk through different issues, such as “our community and law enforcement.”
Freeman said he hopes the march continues in coming years and becomes a tradition that residents look forward to.
“I hope it becomes more and more a way in which we might express ourselves as a community,” Freeman said. “I want it to give people a collective voice to raise issues that concern us and be a motivating experience.”