MLK rally article overlooks Hyde Park activists’ role in event turnout

Thanks to students’ work, politicians had no choice but to attend MLK Day celebration

By Letter to the Editor

Your otherwise excellent article on the MLK Day Rally in Hyde Park (1/22/10: “Politicos Flock To Hyde Park For MLK Celebration”) missed a couple of key points.

First, the huge turnout—as your correspondent noted, over a thousand people were present—was the result of weeks and months of organizing in communities across Chicago and northwest Indiana. The list of politicians in attendance was indeed impressive, but it is important to remember that they were only there because of a grassroots movement that brought so many of their voters together that they couldn’t afford not to be there.

Second, a large part of this turnout—close to a hundred, according to the organizers—was made up of students from the U of C and a number of Hyde Park seminaries who, as part of a coalition headed by the Southside Solidarity Network, organized one of the largest campus mobilizations for a political action in recent memory.

Against a backdrop of gloomy assessments of the state of political activism both in the national media and in the Maroon, such a vibrant reminder of the potential of students to be a part of real, concrete change in our community is truly something to be celebrated.

Mark Hopwood is a third-year graduate student in philosophy and Southside Solidarity Network member.