Leesburg held its 20th Annual Martin Luther King Day March on Monday morning, which began at the Loudoun County Court House in the historic downtown.
Approximately one hundred people of all races and nationalities braved the cold and windy weather to participate in the walk along with the Tuscarora High School Marching Band.
Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd said she has marched every year since it began in 1992. Last year the town had a stone from the Martin Luther King Memorial installed along the Market Street Route, so the march would always follow the same route, she said.
It concludes at the Douglass Community Center, each year, because African American citizens of Leesburg founded it as a high school for African Americans during segregation times. The school functioned as a high school from 1955-1968, until the schools were integrated.
Many alumni of Fredrick Douglass High School attend the march and/or reception held afterwards at the Douglass County Center, sponsored by the Bluemont Concert Series, Douglass Alumni Association, Baha’i Community and Loudoun County Branch NAACP, together known as the 'I Have a Dream Committee'.
Like Umstattd, K.D. Kidder has marched every year, since her mother, Doris Kidder, was a founding member of the Loudoun NAACP.
“There’s always been a lot of enthusiasm [for the march]," Kiddler said. "It doesn’t seem to matter if it is cold or snowing."
School Board member Tom Reed was also in attendance.
“I’ve been coming to these for 14 years,” he said, adding that he's on the committee.
"There was a time when we didn’t have any school participation,” Reed said, but now bands and step-teams, such as this year’s team from Dominion High School and Seneca Ridge Middle School in Sterling, participate in the festivities.
Members of the new Loudoun County chapter, Sigma Mu Mu, of African American Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, were also proudly in attendance as well, wearing their purple fraternity shirts.
“First of all it’s an African American fraternity so we wanted to honor Dr. Martin Luther King,” said member Michael Bennett. "Being in Loudoun County...there is a rich history and as a new chapter it is important to honor our forebears of not just human rights, but African American rights.”
According to Kiddler, more than five hundred people attended the reception, where music was played, food was served and speeches by local dignitaries were given.
Many citizens, such as Langston West felt it was important, “to be a part of the tradition and help keep the dream alive.”