Presidential inauguration elevates meaning of Spokane's MLK Jr. march

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 3:30 AM

SPOKANE -- The Martin Luther King Jr. march made its way through downtown Spokane Monday morning without any issues.  For some people, walking past the bench where a backpack bomb was planted two years ago is still fresh in their minds.

The second inauguration of President Barack Obama also elevated the meaning of the event.  Many people planned their day so that they could enjoy both occasions.  This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Doctors King's 'I Have a Dream' speech.

Each year has brought more attention and awareness to the local effort to honor a global icon.  Among those in the crowd Monday were those who have followed the work of a civil rights pioneer for decades.

"I was in Selma, Alabama with Dr. King in 1965," said march organizer Etta Watkins.  "It has been an important part of my life for some time."

But as the community took a step forward with each new march, they were still thinking about the effort by one man to hold back the message of event.  An improvised explosive device was placed inside a backpack along the march route.  It never went off.  Spokane Police were able to contain the situation without disrupting the march.  A federal judge sentenced Kevin Harpham of placing the bomb on the route to 32 years in prison.  This year, the planned attack was still a concern for some in the march.
 
"I thought about it but I think this cause is worth enough," said Jim Buford who participated in the march.

Others said they believe the incident not only helped to make the event more secure but also more of a success.

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