Phoenix Celebrates MLK Day By Remembering Historic Local March

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Monday, January 21, 2019 - 4:53pm
Updated: Monday, January 21, 2019 - 5:12pm
Casey Kuhn/KJZZ
Yannick Simmons Coleman with his daughter at the MLK Day festival and march in Phoenix on January 21, 2019.

Thousands came out to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Phoenix Monday.

The event began with a march through downtown to commemorate a historic march decades earlier, when the state was still refusing to recognize the holiday. In 1991, the NFL barred Arizona from hosting an upcoming Super Bowl, citing the state’s defiance over MLK Day. A year later, voters officially approved the state holiday.

Yannick Simmons Coleman came to the celebration with his family. He said when he first moved here from Michigan in 2007, he was worried about Arizona’s political climate.

“For a long time I was scared to move to Arizona from things that I’ve heard about it," he said. "But then the longer I’ve been here, I’m starting to see more people like myself, other minorities, and it feels much better and more welcoming.”

Simmons Coleman said his grandmother marched with the civil rights leader in Selma. He hopes to teach his daughter their history by bringing her out to events like Monday’s march.

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