“I’m here as a citizen of this country but at times we feel like we’re not,” Smith said.
She recalled marching in a rally in 2009 when protestors shut down the Fruitvale station in response to the police shooting of Oscar Grant III, an unarmed black man. She said that to gather once more at the Fruitvale station and its neighboring plaza and on the day dedicated to honoring the legacy of King made a great deal of sense.
“This is where we stand for social justice,” Smith said. “This was the point to say ‘we’re here.’”
Quanah Brightman, 37, son of activist Dr. Lehman Brightman, attended the rally in Oakland on behalf of the organization, United Native Americans.
He said that it mattered to hold the march on the day that honors King because the message of unity that King shared 40 plus years ago is still relevant today.
Brightman cited the ethnic diversity of the crowd chanting the slogan of BlackLivesMatter as an example of King’s message resonating broadly today.
“It shows that the seeds that he and other civil rights leaders planted years ago are alive and well,” Brightman said.