With voices raised in a call for peace, more than 100 community people gathered together for the annual Peace Walk in downtown Williamsport Saturday morning.
“Being able to come together as a community is a lot stronger than having individual leaders trying to lead everyone at once,” said Ethan Arnett, a student at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
The group started at First United Methodist Church and made its way down Market Street, up West Fourth Street and around the Lycoming County Courthouse before returning to the church.
The walkers called for unity, equality and increased investment in community.
Bundled in a heavy jacket and hat, Karrie Myers, of Step AmeriCorps, was ready to support the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“On days like these, even if it’s cold out, I’m going to come because he had to go through something worse,” Myers said.
Following the walk, a celebration of the life of Richard C. James, who passed away in May, was held at the church. James, an force for social change in Williamsport, was instrumental in starting the Beloved Community Council, the peace walk and founded the Community Alliance for Progressive Positive Action.
Pastor Raphael Mnkandhla called the community to wake up to social change, as James did.
“One thing that was beating in (James’) heart was that he wanted to see everyone flourish,” Mnkandhla said.
Programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters are instrumental in working in the lives of other people and instilling change, he added. “Anybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”
Mnkandhla, a black man, said he is often asked why he adopted his two white sons. He explains that everyone is created equal in God’s image.
“Even when man is now flawed and is capable of atrocities, he is still made in the image of God,” he said. “Our mandate is to steward creation … and from there we’re going to see injustice fall.”