Members of the local clergy led a procession of peace and prayer this morning along the same route chosen by a group of white supremacists for a march later in the day.
The walk began at Seventh and Elm streets with a prayer by the Rev. Maureen Dickmann. The group decided to pause along the route to say prayers or blessings and sing.
Along the route, people in cars paused and waved in support.
The first stop was at Ninth and Elm streets, where the Rev. Carl Lewis of Second Baptist Church prayed aloud. “When they march today in anger, I pray that they meet you at the end of this route,” Lewis said.
The “they” Lewis referred to are members of the National Socialist Movement, a white supremacist group has a parade permit to march Saturday afternoon.
The march by clergy, who also had a parade permit, was part of a community response that includes an 11 a.m. rally at the Boone County Courthouse and a gathering in Douglass Park from noon to 5 p.m.
The 21 early morning marchers, mostly representatives of churches, synagogues and spiritual centers, were led by the Rev. Mary Hull of St. Paul AME Church with the help of Dickmann, of Rock Bridge Christian Church, and the Rev. Karen Walker-McClure of Russell Chapel CME Church.
“This march is necessary because we are called as leaders in the community,” Hull said, “My prayer is that the parade will pass through with no harm to the community.”
John Galliher, director of peace studies at MU, said he attended the peace walk in support of the black community. “The greatest concern for some of us is that some African-American kids will be out there and do something foolish, and that’s what I believe the Nazi’s want,” Galliher said.
During a stop at Hitt and Elm streets, Rabbi Yossi Feintuch of Congregation Beth Shalom sang, in Hebrew, a rendition of verses 2-4 of Isaiah: “Let no nation lift a sword against a nation. Let them learn no more the ways of war.”
The faith-bound procession also paused at Hitt Street and University Avenue, Ninth and University, and the entrance to Francis Quadrangle at Eighth and Elm streets to pray and sing.
When the marchers returned to the starting point, the group sang “we are standing on Holy ground” and “we shall overcome”.