By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — More than 200 students, parents, teachers, elected officials and administrators gathered for a rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrating Dearborn’s diversity.
The student-organized event promoted “The Real Dearborn” theme celebrating the city’s history, culture and united community.
Students from, Dearborn, Edsel Ford, Fordson and Divine Child high schools led the rally from Henry Ford Centennial Library to the Dearborn Administrative Center.
Once the short march was completed, students and administrators each said a few words about Dearborn and integrated a quote from King as well.
“We organized this rally to show the real Dearborn that is diversified and unified,” Edsel Ford senior Cassandra Tapia, 18, said. “Our city’s image is distorted by outside forces who have never been here or know how great it is here.”
Fordson senior Omar Carcora said residents may have come to Dearborn on different ships but are in the same boat now.
“No matter your race, religion, gender or any other identity that people can divide us, we look past that.,” he said. “That’s how a family works. It’s the same diversity Dearborn has that makes our unity in the city so powerful.”
Sultan Elhaj, 16, a junior at Dearborn High, touched on the constant scrutiny Dearborn is under, sometimes even by the national media.
“People don’t know enough about Dearborn to know who we are,” he said. “Dearborn is definitely a city of difference, there is no question about it, we have Muslims, we have Christians, Jews and so many more; however, Dearborn is a community of communality.”
“We want to be the city that welcomes anyone who wants to be here and we want to make sure they succeed and they thrive,” Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said. “We can’t be deceived by people who stir the pot.”
DPS Supt. Glenn Maleyko thanked the students for their hard work to put the peace rally together.
“Today I’m so proud of you students,” he said. “Despite the cold you are doing what is right. It really isn’t about me or the administrators. It’s really about you because you have empowered yourselves.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)