The Unity March to walk in Hannibal after 20 years

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HANNIBAL – This Sunday marks the first time in more than 20 years that the Unity March will take place in Hannibal to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

Sponsored by the Hannibal Juneteenth Coalition and Jim’s Journey Museum, the march will assemble on Broadway at the Save A Lot parking lot at 1 p.m., down Maple Street, down Broadway and will then turn right on Lyon street. The march will end at Helping Hands Baptist Church at 1020 Lyon St. in Hannibal for a program will feature performances from students at Eugene Field and Veterans elementary, and the WiLoKi Dance Center.

Georgiana Hawkins, of Hannibal’s Juneteenth Coalition, invites the entire community to walk a path that will capture the heart of Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s message of hope and unity. 

“We are saying let’s come together and be united. It’s ok to disagree and for peace, we need to come together in unity,” she’s said. “With so much division here in our country today —even here in Hannibal— there is a lot of division.”

Hawkins said the message is to bring awareness to a race that has been overlooked.

“People of color, the African American race, has been overlooked for hundreds and hundreds of years. Here in the United States of America. We are not exclusive but predominantly the only nationality in the United States, and in Missouri, does not have zero tolerance for discrimination,” she said.

With the last march taking place in 2000, Hawkins mentioned that a couple of generations have yet to experience what their forefathers and people before them did.

“There’s a whole generation of kids — maybe two generations— of kids who have never done anything like this. We want them to know that it’s ok to do this as long as you do it properly. Marching is to say ‘Hey we have a voice and we want to be heard,’” she said. “We want to proclaim that, for peace.”

Children of the community are invited to participate in the program as well.

WitLoki Dance Studio will host a free dance workshop where all kids, youth and students are invited to learn a short and fun dance to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and to be performed during the program on Sunday.

The workshop will take place at their studio located at 20 Northport Plaza in Hannibal from 1-3 p.m. 

At the end of the practice the dancers will watch a five minute video about Martin Luther King, Jr. and leave them with some words of encouragement to remind them that, “we are all equally made in the image of God, and that He extends His love to every one of us regardless of what we look like or where we are from,” WiLoki Studio stated on the event.

The program will include speakers, husband and wife, Michael Shaw and Ryana Parks-Shaw.

Michael Shaw is a Hannibal native who is currently the Director of Public works with the City of Kansas City with a background in law enforcement. 

“He will talk about where he started out here in Hannibal to where he is now. We want our kids to see there are more things in the world to be than just an athlete or actor” said Hawkins.  

Ryana Parks-Shaw has worked in healthcare and currently serves as the Fifth Ward Councilwoman for the Kansas City city council.

Civic awards will also be presented to recognize leaders and people who have helped bring unity to the Hannibal community. “There are many more who have helped but we can’t recognize everybody,” Hawkins said.

The program will be about an hour and a half.

A youth art contest will also take place for students from elementary school through high school. The artwork will be on display at Helping Hands Church. Entries for the art show will be accepted until Wednesday and should contact Georgiana Hawkins at 573-248-7405 or Marsha Mayfield at 573-719-7171. 

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