MLK marcher in Butler County: ‘We can come together at a time that’s critical in our lives’

HAMILTON — The Rev. Victor Davis, who has organized Hamilton’s Martin Luther King Jr. March for 35 consecutive years, didn’t let the low number of participates or the chilly weather deter his enthusiasm.

About 30 people, including Hamilton’s police chief and mayor, braved the 32-degree weather Monday morning as the group made a short roundup through downtown. Part of the route included Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, named in honor of the late Civil Rights leader.

The other Martin Luther King Jr. events in Butler County either were cancelled or held virtually due to the health risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Davis urged all the marchers to wear face masks and walk six feet apart.

After the march, the rest of the program was held virtually, he said.

“The key was we didn’t let the number or the conditions stop us,” Davis said after the march. “I’m very proud. My grandparents didn’t have the right to vote, didn’t have equal rights and were incarcerated when they shouldn’t have been.”

About half of the marchers were white and Davis, 70, said that means all people, regardless of race, “see the problems of the world that we all face.”

Jackson Connell, 21, of Hamilton, said he marched in honor of his mother, Wendy Waters-Connell, CEO of the Hamilton YWCA. He was impressed by the diversity of the marchers.

“We can come together at a time that’s critical in our lives when there is so much hatred,” he said.

The Rev. Shaquila Mathews, better known as “Pastor Shaq,” delivered the prayer before the march. She, too, noticed how the marchers came from different backgrounds and various lifestyles.

“That’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about. All the things Dr. King and the movement are about.”

She marched in honor of those before her, she said.

“They truly sacrificed for our freedom to vote and have a voice,” she said.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said the 35th annual march shows the community of Hamilton.

“It’s important for all of us to be here together,” Bucheit said. “What an amazing community this is. Different backgrounds, different ways of life. We are all out here for the same reason — to make our community the best place to live.”

As Mayor Pat Moeller marched, he thought about the accomplishments and the words often spoken by King, who was assassinated in 1968.

“This march helps you focus on his message,” Moeller said. “This march is important. It creates a sense of neighborhoods, a sense of community.”

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