“No one walks alone,” May Rihani said during today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Leesburg.
The statement prompted a standing ovation from the hundreds who gathered at Douglass Community Center. Many had just spent part of the chilly morning marching together from the Loudoun courthouse to the community center on East Market Street. The annual half-mile walk commemorates the marches led by King, the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1963 at the age of 39.
In her keynote speech, Rihani, an activist for girls’ education, said King has inspired notable progress in the U.S. and around the world, but humanity still has a long way to go to achieve racial equality.
“His vision of civil rights as a pathway to social justice needs to become the driving force for each and every American if we truly believe in a future lived with dignity and fulfillment,” said Rihani, author of “Cultures without Borders.” “If we march shoulder to shoulder we can make Dr. King’s vision a reality and we will reach the top of the mountain.”
The 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream” Celebration was a daylong event, with performances by the Loudoun Valley High School jazz ensemble, Steps by T.A.M.M.Y. Harper Park Middle School’s Allegro Strings, Dance Academy of Loudoun, Loudoun Bible Church kids’ choir, among others. The ceremony culminates with the singing of the song that became a key anthem during the civil rights movement, “We Shall Overcome.”