Voting key to King’s message, Ohio Secretary of State tells Dayton audience

DAYTON — People from all over the Miami Valley gathered Monday night to honor slain civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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State officials, local leaders and people filled the Dayton Convention Center, 22 E. Fifth St., to not only honor MLK’s legacy, but to talk about how to keep it alive through action, almost 52 years after his death.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose also was in attendance for the banquet.

He spoke on the importance of carrying out King’s dream of exercising one’s voice to speak up and also to vote.

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“A big part of Dr. King’s mission was voting rights,” LaRose said. “He was part of the inspiration to help organize the voting registration drive in Selma, Alabama, that led to the march on Montgomery, that led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“Just 55 years ago, people had to fight for it. People were chased by dogs and knocked down by water hoses and hit with sticks just because they wanted to register and to vote,” LaRose said.

Christian Ross of Dayton agreed that voting was important.

“It’s definitely important,” he said. “If you want a change in your country you definitely need to vote. If you are not going to vote than nothing is going to change. Then you are going to sit and be stagnant and be OK.”

Banquet chairwoman Pamela Bernard said those rights help everyone use their voice for change.

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“If nothing else, I hope they understand the importance of voting, getting people in the position to get what is is that we want and bringing us all together,” she said.

In addition to LaRose’s remarks, members of his staff also were on hand to help register new voters.