by Andrew Crisp
Hundreds hoisted signs Monday morning in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, leading a parade that began at Boise State University, traversed Capitol Boulevard and ended with a rally on the Idaho Capitol steps.
Representatives of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, the Boise State Women's Center and Idaho Civil Rights Commission rallied to hear speakers discuss the legacy of King, and unfinished work still be to be done.
"I'm proud to represent 20,000 students as the school's first openly gay student body president," said Boise State's Ryan Gregg. "Even in 2013, where a black man has just been sworn in for his second term as president, Dr. King's dream still has not been fully realized."
Realizing that legacy, said Gregg, included not just ending racism but other forms of discrimination. He applauded the City of Boise for passing an ordinance to extend nondiscrimination protections to gender identity and sexual orientation, but said the State Legislature had failed to make strides to do the same.
"I dream of a time when marriage as recognized by your God is not the same as marriage as recognized by your government," said Gregg.
Tai Simpson briefly addressed the crowd to call attention to the issues of Native Americans, part of a group representing Idle No More assembled on the Capitol steps, "the most powerful movement" yet seen from American Indians.
"Idle No More is bringing back awareness to the native population," explained Simpson. "We have the very prestigious white men in this building who have not been hearing us. But that ends now."
The movement began in Canada, comprising people from many native groups, but has since spread to the United States.
Andrew Hall, wearing an Idle No More hat, said he represented the Shoshone Nation, and that people from the Sioux tribe in South Dakota, and tribes in Oregon and Nevada had made the trip to Boise for the occasion. The 19-year-old Hall said Jan. 21 was a day to call attention to human rights.
Following the rally, participants went inside to participate in the state's celebration of MLK.