Economic Photo by Camaron Stevenson

Arizonans marched in downtown Phoenix Monday to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for equality and economic justice.

Loudspeakers blared Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech throughout the streets of Phoenix Monday morning as more than 2,000 people marched to celebrate his memory.

The march began at 9 a.m. near Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church on Jefferson and 15th Street in downtown Phoenix. Participants marched for more than two miles to the city’s annual MLK Festival at Hance Park. Several elected officials led the march, including former Phoenix Mayor Rep. Greg Stanton, Rep. Ruben Gallego, and Rev. Dr. Warren H. Stewart Sr.

Stewart, a longtime civil rights activist, led the charge to have MLK Day recognized as a holiday in Arizona. Gov. Bruce Babbitt made the first declaration in 1986, but Gov. Evan Mecham repealed the action the following year. In 1992, a ballot proposition reinstated the holiday.

“Our state was the only state in the nation that had to vote in order for this holiday to become a reality,” said former state Senator Leah Landrum Taylor at the festival. “We must never, ever forget that.”

Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix, joined Landrum Taylor in addressing the crowd, telling those in attendance that 2020 would be a year for economic justice.

“We know that during Dr. King’s final days, he really focused on poverty, and making sure that we have economic justice throughout our country,” Bolding said. “And right now, we can continue to do that here in the state of Arizona. We have to make sure people in all communities have an opportunity to take care of their families.”

This year marks the 34th year the MLK March and Festival have occurred in Phoenix. It is organized through a collaboration between the City of Phoenix, the Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center, and the Arizona Interfaith Movement.