By Debra Z. Roth
On the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday Monday, the first-ever march for civil rights in the 70-year history of the City of Falls Church will commence from the Tinner Hill Historic Monument, where 100 years ago the first rural branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People began in once-segregated Falls Church, to its City Hall. Several hundred marchers representing diverse races, religions, ethnicities, the LGBT community and more are expected to walk to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King.
Following the march, a program of unity, racial healing, and justice will be held at City Hall as the nation readies for a new president.
On the one-half mile march, according to Tinner Hill Foundation co-founder Ed Henderson, “participants will march, sing, and stand together in unity.”
The event, he said, “is designed to focus attention on the need for communities to come together peacefully and demand justice for those whose rights are in danger of being violated and to begin a dialogue on solutions to heal our nation’s divisiveness.”
At City Hall, following the march, a two-hour program will feature a video honoring Dr. King and an open panel discussion in the Council chambers. It will commence at 2 p.m.
Panel speakers scheduled include: White House Senior Associate General Counsel Raheemah Abdulaleem; U.S. Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA); Walter Tejada, Former Chair of the Arlington County Board of Supervisors and Chair of the Virginia Latino Leaders Council; Rabbi Amy Schwartzman, Temple Rodef Shalom (Falls Church); Kofi Annan Fairfax County president, NAACP; Michael Davis, Northern Virginia Urban League Acting Chair; Nicholas Benton, member of the Democratic National Committee LGBT Leadership Council; WPFW-FM radio host Garland Nixon; Students For Change (J.E.B. Stuart High School, Falls Church), which is spearheading the effort to change its name from a Confederate soldier; and Ronald Lapitan, George Mason University student, Baha’is Youth leader and author of The Earth is One Country.
Groups participating in the march will include the Fairfax County NAACP, the Northern Virginia Urban League and the Baha’is of Falls Church.
Marchers are being invited to gather at 12:30 p.m. Monday at the NAACP Arch on S. Washington Street at Tinner Hill Road. Following the march to City Hall and the program, shuttle buses will return marchers to the start of the parade.
The march and program are being sponsored by the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and the City of Falls Church.