ALTON — The Riverbend Ministerial Alliance is organizing a Unity March at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18.
The march will begin at Deliverance Temple, 1125 E. Sixth St. in Alton, and will conclude with a rally at the Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument at Monument and Fifth Street in Alton.
According to RMA President Peter Hough, this is one step toward seeing Dr. King’s dream become a reality in the Riverbend.
Included in the region’s history is a dark cloud of racial tensions and spiritual oppression.
Alton became an important town for abolitionists, as Illinois was a free state across from the slave state of Missouri. Many historic homes in Alton were Underground Railroad stations prior to the Civil War, and famous abolitionist Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered here while defending his press from being destroyed for a third time. Because it attracted runaway slaves, Alton also attracted runaway slave catchers. Many citizens in this area favored slavery.
Alton was the birthplace of James Earl Ray, who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., and the site of much racially fueled violence in the ’60s and ’70s. More recently, tensions in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shootings in nearby Ferguson, Mo., had an impact on the entire region.
In many respects, Alton remains a city divided by racial tensions, even today. This march is one step toward healing that wound and moving toward a unified community where diversity is celebrated, not simply tolerated.
The public is invited to participate with the Riverbend Ministerial Alliance. For more details, interviews or other information, contact Ministerial Alliance Communications Director Mike Adams at (618) 420- 8525. The group also is on Facebook.