Via Wyoming News Exchange
Almost 200 marchers took to the streets of Cheyenne and Casper on Monday to honor the legacy and message of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Participants in Cheyenne’s march walked from the city’s railroad depot to the Wyoming Supreme Court building, where they sang, prayed and spoke. In Casper, people gathered at the First United Methodist Church to hear share messages of hope after walking through downtown Casper.
By The Wyoming Tribune Eagle
The message of Monday’s march to honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of resilience, conviction and hope.
More than 100 people gathered to march from the Cheyenne Depot Plaza to the Wyoming Supreme Court, where people sang, prayed, spoke and came together to honor the legacy of one of the most prominent voices of the civil rights movement.
Keynote speaker and Cheyenne native Michael Thomas recounted much of that history – from slavery to emancipation, Jim Crow to Brown vs. Board of Education.
He talked about the fight for voting rights and the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
But, Thomas said, more work needs to be done. More than a dozen states have recently passed restrictions on voting by requiring photo IDs, moving polling locations or restricting polling times.
Black men are incarcerated at much higher rates than other populations.
But there is hope, he said.
“Dr. King’s work, his legacy, his dream, is still alive today. For if it was not, I might not be standing before you today,” Thomas said.
Thomas spoke about his upbringing in Cheyenne, his struggles with dyslexia, his faith in God, and the mentorship and support of people in his life.
Thomas said he had always wanted to become an FBI agent, so in 1992 he joined the U.S. Army, where he cultivated his leadership skills.
Eventually, he changed that dream, wanting to be part of the U.S. Marshals Service. But they were on a hiring freeze, so he moved back to Cheyenne and worked in probation and parole at the Wyoming Department of Corrections.
In 2007, he got the opportunity to join the U.S. Marshals, and reported to the academy for training.
Today, Thomas is a chief deputy U.S. Marshal.
He said his success and the success of so many others was the result of the type of progress exemplified by the life and struggle of King.
“Let us unite against all inequalities and injustices. We must stand as one. Let us not forget those that have gone before us, and let us not permit their lives and legacies to be in vain,” he said. “Keep marching for justice, keep marching for peace and keep marching for truth.”