The event is in response to Glenn Beck's rally, organizer Mike Picardi said in an interview before the rally. "The fact that he's having this at the Lincoln Memorial is a real slap in the face to the honor of Martin Luther King and everything he worked for."
But few spoke of Beck at Liberty Park. Most of the attendees were there to remember their sons, brothers and friends: Ted Fields and David Martin. The two men, an 18- and 20-year old, respectively, were shot by Joseph Paul Franklin in August 1980 as they jogged to the park with two white girls. Franklin, a white supremacist on death row in Missouri, has been convicted for eight of the 19 or more murders he is suspected of.
Today, a memorial plaque set in the park's grassy northwest corner bears the names of Fields and Martin.
"These two families have given so much. They gave the pride of their lives: their sons," said the Rev. France Davis, of Calvary Baptist Church, who spoke at the event. "Those were tragic times in this community. The community was about to explode."
But those hurt by the violence were able to heal through their "willingness to forgive," Davis said.
Rose Fields Waller, who flew in from Georgia to attend, said her brother, "Teddy," knew not to judge others by the color of their skin. Over the years, Waller has felt perplexed when people have suggested to her that she has a reason to hate white people.
"I say, 'One guy did that,' " Waller said. "No matter what we do in life we must continue to confront hatred. … It won't go away tomorrow, if we stop caring today."
Priscilla Lillie did not know Fields or Martin, but said she was touched by their story. For her, Saturday was another anniversary. Five years ago, she was evacuated to Salt Lake City from New Orleans due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
"I just wanted to come here and thank God I survived," she said. "It's an honor to be here at a memorial for someone who gave his life for justice."
Salt Lake branch of NAACP marks anniversary of King's speech
On Saturday, the NAACP marked the 47th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech, by Martin Luther King Jr., by renewing the call for education, jobs and justice for all Americans.
The Salt Lake branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held a panel discussion and screened film footage at the Salt Lake City Main Library of the 1963 March on Washington and King's speech.
"I believe we each have a responsibility to continue moving toward Dr. King's dream and vision," said Cynthia Bioteau, president of Salt Lake Community College. April Hollingsworth, chairwoman of the Salt Lake branch's legal redress committee, said she continues to receive complaints of discrimination that may seem unbelievable in 2010. "Nooses still show up in workplaces and racial graffiti on the walls. … Just because we have an African American president doesn't mean that we've made it," she said.