SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR)– One city added a unique twist to their annual tradition on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year marks 30 years the NAACP in Springfield has held its Unity March.
Community leaders and the Illinois chapter of the NAACP marched down Martin Luther King Drive in Springfield and right into a controversial conversation. Once the march was over, the group gathered the community to talk about what Dr. King would think of Illinois legislation.
The NAACP asked event goers, if Dr. King were here today, what would he think of the new law legalizing marijuana? The reactions were mixed.
Some said he would be proud of the strides Illinois has made to right some of the wrongs done to communities of color by the war on drugs.
“He would proud of anything that’s moving our culture forward. It was a dark cloud over our community for a long time and with it now being legal, that’s something that is off our shoulders and we can move forward and make sure most of that revenue is coming back to out communities to try to help it overcome what devastation it has caused,” said City of Springfield Ward 2 Alderman Shawn Gregory.
While most agreed Dr. King would be pleased with decriminalization, many said the activist and reverend would not advocate for the law to be passed. They feel he would try to educate the community about potential consequences of violating the law knowingly or unknowingly.
“We have the ability to pull the government together, we have ability to pull the mayor, the police chief, state’s attorney, we have that relationship. So we are utilizing our influence to make sure we can educate our community,” said Robert Moore, Criminal Justice Committee Chairman for the Illinois chapter.
A big focal point for city and organization leaders was reminding people that the Illinois law forbids public use as there were many college students and public housing residents in attendance.