A day of service brings more than 130,000 to projects in Philadelphia region

 Volunteers work on a mural at Girard College in Philadelphia (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Volunteers work on a mural at Girard College in Philadelphia (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

More than 130,000 people turned out at hundreds of service projects in our region to honor of slain civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Ken Salaam joined King and Cecil B. Moore 50 years ago, as part of a series of marches to open Girard College to all. He he’s watched a lot of change in five decades.

“I am so proud that Almighty God allowed me to live today to stand today in this building with my grandson who never could have come into this building unless we walked for seven months and 17 days, 24 hours a day,” Salaam said.

Philadelphia Fire commissioner Derrick Sawyer says King opened doors for him and many other African-Americans.

“I think it gave me an opportunity to be the fire commissioner as the fifth largest city in the country,” he said. “Another thing it does is gives us an opportunity as a fire service and service the community” 

School Superintendent William Hite says he has his own dream — providing a good education to every child.

“It’s a dream that we all begin thinking about the children of Philadelphia, not as other people’s children but as all of our children collectively and that means we have to provide all that we can to educate them, to keep them safe,” Hite said. 

Several mayoral candidate turned out. Nelson Diaz says he’s been to all 20 days of service because Dr King influenced his career.

“I was going to be a great accountant and all of a sudden people from this program that stated the year 68 right after Dr King was assassinated, I was asked to apply to law school,” Diaz said. “That’s how I wound up in Philadelphia” said the New York native.

Mayor Michael Nutter challenged organizers to recruit 150,000 volunteers for next year.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal