Third Annual Unity March: This Is What Unity Looks Like!

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On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, October
7, 2006, a crowd of nearly 200 participants
joined in the Third Annual Unity
March. This year, we took the Unity March
to the community. We went into the Garden
Hills neighborhood, ground zero for
the effects of racism and poverty in our
The march started at Bradley and
Prospect. From there we walked west to
McKinley and north passing through the
Dorsey apartments, where there are many
individuals who receive Section 8 vouchers.
These are the people that certain members
the Champaign City Council would
like to keep segregated. Champaign City
Council member Ken Pirok recently
attempted to repeal a city ordinance passed
in March to prohibit landlords from discriminating
against Section 8 recipients.
This pro-discrimination policy was also
supported by Vic McIntosh, the City Council
representative from this neighborhood.
The march also went past the sites of several
tragedies that have struck this embattled
community in the last year. The first was the
block of Honeysuckle where police called
out the S.W.A.T. team and an armored truck
to deal with Carl “Dennis” Stewart, a suicidal
black man with a gun. Pushed into a corner
by police, Stewart allegedly put the gun to
his head and killed himself.
Next we walked down Hedge Road past
the home of Quentin Larry who died over
Memorial Day weekend in the Champaign
County jail. Larry was one of five deaths
that have occurred in the jail in the last two
years. His mother came out to greet the
crowd and there was a moment of silence
for her son.
Moving down Hedge Road, marchers
chanted “This is what community looks
like.” We walked past a burned and boarded
up house at 1313 Hedge Road. On September
25, a 3 year-old boy named
Demetrius Lenard, Jr. died in the fire. In a
News-Gazette article, writer Mary Schenk
was more concerned about the property
damage and blamed the mother for her
son’s loss, emphasizing there should have
been an escape plan. Unity marchers again
bowed their heads in a moment of silence
and Carol Ammons placed a wreath of
flowers in front of the home.
The march ended in Thompson Park
with a rally. Several politicians were in
attendance and a voter registration table
was set up. Members of the community
who had joined in the march sat on the
grass with their children or stood under
trees for shade.
Once again, the Unity March was a sign
that people prefer community and togetherness
over war and destruction.
(Photographs by Wendy Edwards)

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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