January 22, 2010

South siders rally to end poverty

Hoping to realize Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of social equality through elimination of poverty, South Siders marched throughout the area Saturday.

“The march is a public display of commitment to the cause. We are not protesting anything today," said Jordan Hestermann, the executive director of Becoming We the People, the march's organizers. "We are working towards change."

About 30 people met at the First Unitarian Church for a rally and marched through Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and Washington Park. A panel discussion on poverty followed in the church.

“Getting people engaged through the march can apply pressure to the political policy makers,” Allan Lindrup, a member of the church’s Social Justice Council, said.

Organizers collected signatures to send a letter to President Barack Obama, advocating for greater social equality. “In order to work toward equality, we have to end poverty. They go hand in hand,” Hestermann said.

Although there is a black president, inequality still exists, due in part to poverty, according to Lupe Ramirez, the director of development of Centro Comunitario Juan Diego.

“Equality is not when blacks and Latinos are killing each other on the streets and we are locking them up instead of educating them," Ramirez said in a speech addressed to the marchers. "That is not Martin Luther King’s dream being realized.”

University of Chicago students attended from RSOs Community Service Leadership Training Corps, and the Student National Medical Association – Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students.

The march commemorated Martin Luther King's Poor People’s Campaign, a 1967 initiative to combat poverty and thus achieve equality.