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MLK Day Rally Honors King's Dream, Obama's Achievement

Jan. 19, 2009 — Speakers at the 16th annual Martin Luther King March and Rally on Monday focused on change, tying their comments in with the rally's theme, "Dr. King's Dream Made Obama's Reality."
The march and rally took place just a day before the United States was set to inaugurate its first African-American president.
"There is so much joy, reverence and happiness here today," said Cheryl Willocks, principal at Eulalie Rivera Elementary School. "Martin Luther King brought us together so many years ago and today we have this wonderful activity bringing people together to celebrate this historic time."
Antoinette Rampersad, chair of the Civil Rights committee and organizer of the march, estimated the number of marchers at more than 1,000.
"I am so happy — I have been in tears," Rampersad said. "We have united as one celebrating this historical event. Now our focus is on love."
The Central Labor Council of the V. I. Civil Rights Committee sponsored the march and rally. Leading the march to Island Center for the Performing Arts from Plaza Extra East was the Central High School Junior ROTC marching band and members.
"I'm happy Martin Luther King's dream actually came true with Barack Obama," said Michael Cenac, a student at the School of the Good Shepherd, as he marched along with classmates.
Delita Bess, a paraprofessional from Eulalie Rivera, marched along with students leading the chant, "Yes we can."
"This event was very touching and refreshing," Bess said.
Schools that marched were Charles H. Emanuel, St. Croix Christian Academy, Country Day School, Juanita Gardine, Lew Muckle, St. Croix Seventh Day Adventists, Eulalie Rivera and School of the Good Shepherd. Fraternities and sororities taking part were Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi.
The V.I. chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen had 20 people marching. Thirty students from the Red Cross Youth Volunteers took part, as well as representatives and volunteers from AARP.
Numerous other groups and individuals marched along the route under a clear sunny sky with a cool breeze blowing.
Change was the message given by speakers at the rally.
"This is your day and your era," Rampersad said. "Focus on change."
In opening remarks at Island Center, Rampersad asked young people to deactivate the evil spirit of violence.
Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis encouraged the young people attending to stay focused and have a vision of what they want to become and accomplish.
The rally at Island Center included performances by Calypsonian King Generic and the Junior ROTC Drill Team. Twenty-five students from the Eulalie Rivera Choir sang a prayer for Africa and Clecus Emmanuel offered a poetry reading. Henry James sang a musical selection asking people to put their hands in the air while singing the chorus:
No more fighting one another, no more hating each other
Let us save our sons and daughters — let freedom ring

The program concluded with participants joining together to sing the anthem of the 1960s civil rights movement, "We Shall Overcome."
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