DETROIT – Several thousand people marched in downtown Detroit on June 28 to commemorate “The Walk to Freedom” march held in July of 1963. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, led the first march in anticipation of the famous March on Washington that August.

This year’s march came on the heels of the narrow decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action as a policy of compelling national interest.

Martin Luther King III told marchers America needs a “regime change.” He said a new administration that represents all the people, not just the few, is needed.

According to an article published for the occasion by the UAW, Irv Bluestone, Walter Reuther’s top aide during the early 1960s, and later a UAW vice president, said, “The UAW did everything possible to support King and the civil rights movement. When King began planning the Walk to Freedom march, he wanted as many unionists as possible marching with him.”

“To help him, Reuther gave King the use of an office in Solidarity house, UAW headquarters,” Bluestone said. “King used it while he was planning the march in Detroit and the March on Washington that took place the next month.”

Detroit’s 1963 march was enormous, with 200,000 people led by King and Reuther marching down Woodward Avenue. It ended at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit with King delivering a rousing speech. One person who was at the original march said that it was tremendous to see so many Detroiters making a stand for civil rights. “We waited for hours to get in the march,” she said. “By the time we got down to Cobo Hall, we couldn’t get in, there were so many people.”

Forty years later, high school marching bands, civil rights activists, union contingents from SEIU, UAW, Detroit Federation of Teachers, PACE, and many others carried pro-peace signs and marched and chanted in memory of the historic day.

For his part of the commemoration, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) announced in a prepared statement that he would introduce legislation “to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., (posthumously) and his widow Coretta Scott King.”

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