It was a “Walk for Warmth” on a sub-freezing day, hundreds of Evanstonians walking through town to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness, while honoring the life and mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day.

This was the third annual such walk, sponsored by Interfaith Evanston. The crowd assembled in front of the First United Methodist Church, at Hinman and Church, and stretched a full block down Hinman to Davis, before proceeding through town.

One of the participants, Joey Rodger, said, “I love Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.”

The two-mile walk passed by eight of the nine Evanston houses of worship that provide temporary overnight homeless shelters during the cold weather months.

Mark Sloss, pastor of one of those congregations, Immanuel Lutheran Church, brought his two young grandchildren, who were bundled up in a wagon.

While the kids were too young to understand the significance of MLK Day, Sloss said it is still important that “they are doing something to serve Dr. King.”

A police car blocks traffic as the walkers cross Chicago Avenue from Raymond Park.

Another participant, Sol Anderson, said that for him, as both an African-American and the son of a minister, honoring Dr. King by serving the needy is “a perfect example of faith as love.”

Anderson, who heads the Evanston Community Foundation, also said that while Dr. King fought for the civil rights of Black Americans, it was also important that he led a multi-racial and multi-religious coaltion.

The Interfaith Action website describes the MLK Day of Service as “carrying on Dr. King’s legacy and continue his fight for economic, social, and racial justice.”

“I love this coming together,” said Anderson, describing the walk as a “great motiviator” to continue with projects for good long after MLK Day is over.

Interfaith Action also highlights a quote from the slain civil rights leader which sums up the goal of the walk: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?'”

Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old. The January Monday holiday in his name marks his birth on Jan. 15, 1929.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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