Tucson's annual march commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. has been rerouted this year, isolating a number of community groups holding a volunteer fair at Reid Park.
This year's march - the 28th annual in Tucson - will begin and end on the campus of the University of Arizona, where student groups and the Tucson-Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce will present a day of activities on Monday.
The Southern Arizona chapters of the Girl Scouts of America and the American Red Cross, meanwhile, will host a volunteer fair at Reid Park - the traditional end-point of the march.
Other activities are planned across town for Monday - the day of the state and federal holiday celebrating the late civil-rights leader, who was assassinated in 1968.
King's actual birthday is Jan. 15.
The march route
The march begins at 9 a.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center on campus at 1322 E. First St.
Participants are asked to arrive at 8:30 a.m. for a "move your body" exercise inspired by first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to fight childhood obesity.
Marchers will head north on North Mountain Avenue to Speedway and circle back to the Mall via North Campbell Avenue.
Speeches and entertainment will be held on a stage east of Old Main from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The volunteer fair at Reid Park features a Red Cross blood drive, a book drive and an opportunity to write letters to U.S. troops.
Walk-in blood donors are welcomed, and the Literacy Connects book drive will accept books for any age group, said organizer Kristi Pallack.
Various community organizations, including AmeriCorps and Beads of Courage, will host activities and enlist volunteers at the event.
The fair runs from 10 a.m. to noon at the southwest corner of the park, near North Country Club Road and East 22nd Street, in ramadas 10, 14 and 15. The blood drive is 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Debbie Rich, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, said events were planned for Reid Park, assuming that the march would end there, as it has for the past 27 years.
"We're pretty sad about it," said Pallack, "but I still think it will be a great day."
effort to inject energy
Clarence Boykins, president of the Tucson/Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce, said the route was changed in an attempt to reinvigorate the celebration by connecting with student groups on the UA campus. "I'm afraid for some people it's become just another day off. Sometimes I wish old Uncle Ev would appear again," he said.
The Tucson march began in an era of controversy after then-Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, in 1987, rescinded former Gov. Bruce Babbitt's administrative order proclaiming the holiday.
Following an economic boycott and the NFL's cancellation of the Super Bowl in Glendale, business leaders joined with civil-rights leaders to promote the issue on the 1992 ballot. It passed and Arizona celebrated its first MLK Day holiday in 1993.
This year merits added celebration, Boykins said, as the holiday coincides with the second inauguration of the nation's first black president.
"The significance is overwhelming. We have a lot to celebrate. This is what the dream is all about."
Other events and opportunities for community service will compete for your attention Monday, along with the inauguration of President Obama:
• The Loft Cinema and the Tucson Urban League are hosting a live broadcast of President Obama's second inauguration. Inaugural ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m. Tucson time. The Loft event, at 3233 E. Speedway, is free.
The Loft will also host a free showing of the movie "La Source," at 5 p.m. The documentary tells the tale of a Princeton University janitor who led a campaign to bring fresh water to his former home in rural Haiti.
• A singalong to songs that inspired the civil-rights movement will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road.
• The Tucson Audubon Society will host a buffelgrass eradication project from 8 a.m. to noon along Julian Wash, behind Billy Lane Lauffer Middle School, 5385 E. Littletown Road. Water, snacks, gloves and tools will be provided.
• Even dogs will participate in the holiday. A "Freedom Walk" begins at 10 a.m. at the Pima Animal Care Center, 4000 N. Silverbell Road. Volunteers will walk dogs at the adoption center, or, if they prefer, cuddle cats.
• If you march to your own drum, you can simply take a walk or hike Monday. The U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service are holding "fee free" days.
On StarNet: A photo gallery takes a look back at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at azstarnet.com/gallery
Contact reporter Tom Beal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4158.