WHEELING - Area residents marched Sunday to demonstrate that Martin Luther King Jr.'s message of peace and solidarity resonates as loudly today as it did when King proclaimed his dream to the world from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial nearly 50 years ago.
About 50 people - and even one dog - bundled up against the cold and made the 1.5-mile trek from Temple Shalom on Bethany Pike to the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University. The march kicked off a series of events Sunday and today celebrating the life of the civil rights icon who was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.
Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner of Temple Shalom got things started by drawing on the words of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech for inspiration.
WHEELING MARCH — Area residents take part in a march honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday afternoon in Wheeling. - Ian Hicks
"He had a beautiful vision. ... We have come here today to honor the memory of Dr. King and all his achievements," she said.
Jacowitz Chottiner said in addition to celebrating the progress toward a society free of divisions over race, religion and other differences, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to reflect on the work that remains to be done toward that end.
"We know that there is still discrimination, hatred and prejudice in our midst," she said.
At the conclusion of the march, a brief worship service took place in Wheeling Jesuit's Chapel of Mary and Joseph, followed by a luncheon. Later in the afternoon, worshippers gathered at First Presbyterian Church for a service led by the Rev. Jeremiah Jasper.
More events in King's honor were planned for today, the official observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Laughlin Memorial Chapel on 18th Street was the site of a breakfast for school-age children, prepared by students in West Virginia Northern Community College's culinary arts program, followed by educational activities and a noon luncheon.
At 3 p.m., the nine Ohio County students named winners in the YWCA's annual MLK essay contest will be recognized and present their essays, which focus on the issue of bullying in schools, at Wheeling Jesuit's Troy Theater. The ceremony also will feature song and dance performances by local youth groups.