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Residents celebrate what MLK ‘did for us'
Plumas Lake's Sid Riley was just a teenager in the 1960s visiting family in his native Mississippi when a white man threatened to lynch him because he is black.
"He said he would beat me, lynch me and kill me," Riley recalled. "And I really believed he would — I ran all the way back and forgot what my grandmother sent me to the store for."
It was an indelible moment which later inspired Riley to support campaigns for civil rights like the MLK Unity March on Saturday in Marysville.
About 50 people attended the 15th annual Unity March from the Yuba County courthouse in Marysville to the Crossroads Community Church in Yuba City, with an another 30 or so joining the Dr. Martin Luther King celebration at the end of the walk. Saturday was the final Unity March in Marysville, but founder Charlese "Lisa" Harris hopes the tradition will go on now that she's stepping aside.
"I don't know what they'll call it, but I hope the new coordinator, whoever it turns out to be, continues to celebrate this event because it's been such a beautiful journey," Harris said afterwards.
Singing traditional hymnals as they marched down Fifth Street over the bridge and into Yuba City, several young people waved banners and signs reading, "We Shall Overcome," "United We Stand," and "I Have a Dream."
Yuba City teens Esperanza Ortega and Marcelle Grider led the way with an MLK banner. It was the first year marching for both 16-year-old Feather River Academy students.
"I think it celebrates what Martin Luther King did for us," Grider said. "He brought people together, helped people realize no person is better than any other."
For 11-year-old Michael Scheibner, marching on Saturday achieved two goals.
"Well, I'm here because I get extra credit in school," the Gray Avenue Middle School student explained. "And we talk about (racism) in my social studies class and it (racism) isn't fair. Your political rights mean everybody should be equal."
Riley, 59, believes America has come a long way racially since Dr. King's time, but said there's still more work to be done. Riley pointed to the election of President Barack Obama as evidence of significant improvement in American society.
"In my lifetime, I never thought I'd see a black president, and now he's in his second term," Riley said. "But, of course, there are still people, many people, that are not accepting of all other races, that believe we are not all created equal."
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.