The march began at Voz Workers' Rights Education Project, where speakers engaged the crowd with music, testimonials, and information about the on-going struggle in our communities. The group was founded in June of 2000 and each month connects hundreds of workers to local employers. This summer will mark the 5-year anniversary of the opening of the Workers' Center on NE MLK, which provides a safe space for day laborers to gather as well as ensuring they are paid fair wages for their work.
The marchers then got into formation and headed across the Burnside Bridge just as the clouds were parting. The group gathered at Right 2 Dream Too at the corner of NW 4th and Burnside to hear success stories of people who have benefitted from the support network that the camp provides. The R2D2 camp offers a safe sleeping space for anywhere from 40-60 people a day since its opening in October 2011. The camp is currently locked in a struggle with the city and property owner David Gold, who wants to turn the abandoned hotel across the street from the camp into an international youth hostel. Members of R2D2 told the crowd stories of hardship, financial struggles, and separation from loved ones, all while vowing to continue fighting against the oppressive forces at work in our communities.
The march continued down NW 4th and rounded the corner, ending at Sisters of the Road Café on NW 6th avenue. The marchers were treated to delicious, nutritious and warm food, while local musician and activist Mic Crenshaw entertained the crowd. Sisters of the Road is a pillar of the community, providing healthy meals for barter, and is also a space for peaceful, non-violent organizing.
While many people turned out to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., today was also a reminder that there is still much work to do in Portland and beyond if we wish to end the injustices that are plaguing our communities worldwide. There's already a lot of good work going on here in Portland, and today's message was that we are still here, and we are not done yet.