Lexington marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day by standing still

A few hundred people filled the streets to replace the annual parade

LEXINGTON, VA. – Rather than a parade, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered in a different way in Lexington this year.

A few hundred people lined the downtown streets, standing in place on Monday morning.

There was still plenty of energy for social justice, but in pandemic times they channeled that energy in a different way.

Rev. Reginald Early leads CARE Rockbridge, which traditionally hosts the annual parade through Lexington, “It is innovative because we did talk about the possibility of having it virtually, but that was unanimously ruled out.”

Instead of the parade, they simply stood in place to stay apart from one another.

“With all that’s going on in our society today, in our country, we need to be standing up and speaking out against injustice, inequality, racism and bigotry,” Early said. “We wanted to remember those persons or those families who have suffered the loss of loved ones and friends to the virus, as well as people who are, unarmed African-American people who have been shot dead or maimed by law enforcement officers.”

Church bells played in the background during a moment of silence.

Although the event was over in about 15 minutes, Alexander Caines, a student at Washington and Lee, said it was a good way to honor King.

“I was very impressed that an event like this with this many people showed up happened here in Lexington. I’m very impressed by that and I hope people here start engaging in more activism,” Caines said.

As the pandemic continues, it’s unclear what that will look like, but Early said people left Monday with a clear message.

“Love, justice and equality can be achieved even in the kind of society that we live in; that unity can be achieved even in a divided nation,” Early said.

Organizers thanked local first-responders for providing security and protecting demonstrators.

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