ST. LOUIS (KMOX)– The city of St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the Old Courthouse downtown, was part memorial, part civil rights rally and part church service.
And for many, it was the most important King Day celebration in years. “We definitely have seen, especially in the past year,” says Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis President Michael McMillan, “that all of the achievements and the progress that have been made in our society on various levels, can be turned back.”
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill agrees. “Obviously, when we have people openly marching with tiki torches, proclaiming white supremacy. No masks. No hoods. They wanted to be seen and be known as white supremacists. That’s clearly a step back.”
“Equality that has been thought of as the ultimate goal,” McMillan says, “is not a line that just keeps going up and forward. It has its ebbs and flows.”
“This Martin Luther King Day,” McCaskill says, “is a day to kind of renew our commitment to form a more perfect union where we can actually realize that we are stronger when we are respecting one another.”
After a year that saw racially charged protests in the St. Louis area, new city police chief John Hayden painted a more optimistic picture. “I think people need to see that we’re healing as a community. I believe they’re hopeful. And, I believe I’m part of that hope.”