The first time Emma Brown took part in the Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Rally and March, it wasn’t the same sold-out affair that others were used to.
The youth-focused rally, which takes place annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2021. So this year, the eighth grader at Lefler Middle School eagerly awaiting a return to normal.
Then came the omicron variant and a change of plan: the rally would be broadcast live without an in-person audience for a second consecutive year.
“It kind of gross me out,” Brown said. “I was looking forward to all these people arriving.”
But like the rest of his peers on the planning committee for the 27th annual rally, Brown knew the program’s mission remained unchanged.
Empower, educate and engage. To “walk together” – the theme of the rally this year – in stages towards civility, justice, fairness and kindness. To talk about the injustices, too, that still persist today, like the movements across the country to restrict the right to vote.
Messages that ring true, however they are delivered.
“We’re still able to reach people through their screens because it’s a really powerful program,” Brown said.