Martin Luther King Jr. was a man with a dream.
Beginning at noon Friday, the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP hopes to keep King's dream alive with a voter-registration rally held to commemorate the anniversary of his famous speech 35 years ago.The rally, held at the Federal Building, 125 S. State St., will give people the opportunity to register to vote while they listen to speakers from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and various government and community officials.
Getting people registered to vote and active in the political process is a priority for the NAACP both nationwide and in Utah.
"The history of the NAACP and the African-American community is that we have not been able to vote," said Jeanetta Williams. "As such, we have not been able to make a difference with our politicians."
Voting makes the difference, Williams said.
"There's a crisis going on," she said. "We need to get people registered and to the polls. It's the only way we're going to have a voice."
Several people have given their lives trying to register people to vote, Williams said. Their deaths have impressed upon her the importance of the voting process, and have motivated her to continue their work.
"I don't want to be a martyr," she said, "but I also don't want their deaths to be in vain."
Others scheduled to take part in Friday's rally include Utah Lt. Gov. Olene Walker; Perry Matthews, assistant director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs; Sandy Peck, executive director of the Utah League of Women Voters; and Utah Sen. Ed Mayne, D-West Valley.
Williams invites area ministers, churches, and other organizations to join their efforts to register voters. Though Friday's rally targets multi-ethnic communities, Williams said voting is important for everyone.
"This is an opportunity for all races, all people, to come together," she said.