Poverty march in Bellingham invokes MLK's spirit

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 20, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - For five participants in the third-annual Martin Luther King Poverty March on Monday, Jan. 20, only one thought popped into their heads while marching around Bellingham.

"Annie would be here," Bellingham resident and march participant Lois Canright said.

Annie Atkeson was a longtime volunteer anywhere she could help, Canright said. Atkeson died last week, 18 months after a fall that left her mostly paralyzed. She was 54.

Atkeson volunteered with the Rainbow Coalition and the United Farmworkers, served as a hospice nurse, and, at one point, provided therapy for teenage girls, in addition to many other volunteer activities.

Canright, march participant Richard Lewis and other friends of Atkeson brought her spirit and her energy to the march, because they knew that's what Atkeson would want, Canright said.

"She was a little ball of energy," Lewis said. "She had a talent for inspiration, and she will be dearly missed."

The march was mostly subdued, with only a little chanting and low-key singing every now and then, but some of the almost 200 participants certainly showed that fiery spirit, Canright said.

Bellingham resident Randi Sulkin, 65, came to the march to try to avoid the mistakes of the past.

"I remember the 1960s," Sulkin said. "I remember the marches and the great violence and cruelty inflicted on human beings, and we're still here today struggling."

Sulkin, who recently applied for social security, was concerned about any cuts to social welfare programs, such as social security, Medicare and unemployment benefits.

The march started and ended at Bellingham High School, and it included an essential needs drive, where items from food to diapers to shampoo were taken in to help others.

Reach James Kozanitis at 360-715-2249 or james.kozanitis@bellinghamherald.com.

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