Black Lives Matter Activists Attend MLK March

Posted at 11:27 AM, Jan 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-18 23:51:56-05

Community members who took part in this year’s march honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were met by Black Lives Matter activists, both of whom braved frigid temperatures for the event.   

People of all ages gathered for the annual march even though temperatures struggled to reach 20 degrees.

The parade in Nashville began at the Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, located not far from Tennessee State University. 

For the first time, Martin Luther King III participated in the event. He, along with Mayor Megan Barry, were joined by children and teenagers as they walked towards TSU.

"This holiday is not for any one ethnic group," King III explained. "It's about creating the climate for America to become a better America for all Americans." 

Black Lives Matter activists were seen at the entrance of the school and laid down in the street while marchers walked around them. Several were seen holding up banners and signs.  

"We did this poor people's march to reclaim Martin Luther King's legacy," organizer Taneisha Gillyard said.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the group said those who marched in the race honored a, "sanitized, white-washed version of Dr. King that does nothing more than uphold the status quo."

Group members said they wanted everyone involved to realize some of Nashville's most vulnerable people face daily oppression.

"We had die-in where we shared the reason we were there: for the people who are homeless, for the people who don't have access to food; who are in poorer education systems," Gillyard said. 

While those who were marching, including King's oldest son, had to walk around the Black Lives Matter Activists, they said the goal wasn't to divide. 

"We weren't there in direct opposition of what they're doing.. it's more of an educational tool for themselves and for our people," Gillyard said.

Once the marchers arrived at TSU, a convocation honoring Dr. King and his ideals got underway. Barry spoke before the large crowd and discussed change and a positive future.