On what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 88th birthday, several dozen Oberlinians gathered Monday at his namesake park at the corner of East Vine and South Pleasant streets.
While it marked the 26th consecutive year that such a gathering has taken place at the park, many in attendance felt this year’s gathering was needed more than ever.
“We are thankful to have all of you folks here today and to all be together,” Peace Community Church pastor Marry Hammond said. “We’re going to need a lot of ‘together’ in the years ahead.”
Oberlin city council president Ronnie Rimbert voiced similar thoughts, but also called those in attendance to action.
“We all know what happened. We all know why we’re here,” he said. “I think I’m talking to the choir right now. What needs to happen is the choir needs to talk to others.”
The gathering was attended by people young and old and of many ethnicities.
Douglas Johnson of Oberlin took his young grandson and great-nephew to the park to show them there is hope to be had.
“Mainly I’m here to educate my grandson and great-nephew about history in general,” he said. “We’re here to let both know there is a future for us all to come together as one.”
Oberlin city manager Rob Hilliard believes King’s message is of utmost importance to the Oberlin community.
“I think it’s a core value of the city,” Hilliard said. “Part of that core value is valuing our history, understanding the very special message, and looking at how that message relates to today’s world. I believe that’s part of this crowd and part of this gathering — not only to the past, the present, but as we move into the future what it really means.
“Dr. King’s legacy isn’t a moment in time; it’s a continuation of what we need to strive for and understand and work together on.”
Ohio Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) read a commendation he prepared for the event and then presented it to Rimbert and the city. A number of leaders from local churches also spoke at the event.
Photo by Scott Mahoney Ohio Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) presents Oberlin council president Ronnie Rimbert with a prepared commendation, which he read to a crowd Monday afternoon at Martin Luther King Park.