Hammond Holds 32nd Annual Candlelight March and Celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hammond Holds 32nd Annual Candlelight March and Celebration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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On a bitter cold January day, nearly 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the Hammond City Hall for the annual Martin Luther King Day March and Celebration. Gloved hands clutched steaming cups of coffee in the moments just before dawn, the soft light of sunrise creeped low over the rooftops and the visible breath of the participants punctuated the chill winter air.

Joyce Maclin stood in the crowd, shifting her weight and shivering against the cold. “I’ve done this walk for over 20 years,” Maclin said. “To me, what this means is a way to commemorate and honor all those who walked before us.”

This was supposed to be a candlelight march, but the weather was too cold to light the candles. So they walked without.

Walking with Maclin was her friend and fellow Hammond resident, Chester Anderson. “We’ve come a long way, but we still have far to go. We’re here to keep the dream alive,” said Anderson.

Once at the Civic Center, the celebration was presided over by radio personality Darryll King, whose unique, engaging voice and warm personality set a joyful, welcoming tone to the event, attended by hundreds of people who filled the auditorium. Special guests included Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr. and US Congressman Peter J. Visclosky, along with several other local government officials. Numerous local business owners and civic leaders also were there, all gathering to honor King’s legacy of love and equality.

“I want first of all to thank everybody who got up early this morning to come here, and brave the cold weather for this, our 32nd annual Walk to commemorate and honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said McDermott. “Hammond was, I believe, one of the very first communities to recognize and celebrate this holiday. Hammond is a very diverse community and I’m very glad to see all of you here today. Thank you.”

McDermott went on to thank all those who facilitated and organized the event. The East Hammond Community Choir joined together, lifting their voices to the applause of the crowd.

Later in the program, Darryll King once again took to the podium, and looked out over the crowd.

“Standing here, on this day, my mind goes back to that sad day, April 4th, 1968. A small hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. A shot rang out… and a dream was deferred,” King said, then paused before continuing. “That dream was deferred, but it lives on through us. We are here today to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, to celebrate his words, his legacy.”

“We are here today… All of us... Living the Dream.”