Marching on Genesee Street for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Action

Marching on Genesee Street for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Action

4/4/17 [Photo: David Kramer]

On April 4th, people across America gathered for the Martin Luther King National Day of Action to support racial and economic justice.

Brockport students

Students from SUNY Brockport [Photo: David Kramer]

Inside Foundation

Carl Peters’ Works Progress Administration mural celebrating American labor. Inside Wilson Foundation Academy. [Photo: David Kramer], April 4th, 2017

Organized by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Metro Justice, hundreds gathered at the Wilson Foundation Academy, first to march in the neighborhood and then to reconvene back at the school for a Town Hall teach-in.

As explained to me (and Spectrum Cable News) by Mohini Shauma of Metro Justice and Demond Meeks of the local Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the day was chosen to mark both the April 4th 49th anniversary of King’s assassination and the anniversary of his seminal April 4th, 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech at the Riverside Church in Harlem.

Mohini Sharma (left) and Demond Meeks interviewed by Spectrum News. [Photo: David Kramer]

Especially in the later years of his life, King was adamant that racial and economic justice were irrevocably intertwined, believing that racism was used as a wedge to divide and weaken the labor movement. King’s message culminated in the multi-racial and multi-ethnic Poor Person’s Campaign that demanded economic and human rights for poor Americans of diverse backgrounds.


RCSD School Board President was there to welcome everyone to the after march Town Hall at the Wilson Foundation Academy. [Photo: David Kramer]

As Demond and Mohini said, almost 50 years later the demands still need to be made.  While we may have made some racial progress, the last few 40 years have been marked by anti-union policies and attitudes that have pushed back against economic justice.

me and malik

Talking with Malik Evans. [Photo: Chris Cardwell]


Photo: Chris Cardwell

People carried banners and signs for Metro Justice, the Fight for $15, the Black Lives Matter, the 1199 SEIU, flags for the Rochester Democratic Socialists as well many other progressive organizations. White people carried signs saying; “White People Must End Racism.”

We made the trek from the old Madison campus down Samuel McCrae and Jefferson and Frost and back to Genesee.  At his megaphone, Demond led the chants:  “The people united can never be defeated,” “Black and White, it’s the same fight,” and “What does democracy look like?; this is what democracy looks like.”

Democratic socialist

Rachel Rosen-Simpson, member of Rochester Democratic Socialists [Photo: David Kramer]


Drummers. [Photo: David Kramer]

Curious onlookers were not at first sure how to react. In that neighborhood, people are not used to seeing activism in action on such a large scale. But soon they cheered, honked horns, followed in bicycles and some joined the march.  From her porch, one woman asked me if it was a parade. When I explained the event, she remembered a flyer about it had been left in her mailbox.  She went back inside and brought out her children to watch.

Zipping in and around the marchers was Chris Cardwell of Goodnews Photography. Chris Cardwell kindly offered a 516 photo montage. We could only use just a few from his beautiful selection. To see all 516, contact Chris at [email protected]

All photos below: Chris Cardwell.



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To see all 516 of Chris’s photos, contact him at [email protected]


Reflections on the 48th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination from George Payne

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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