- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Hundreds of people marched through downtown St. Paul on Monday to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

At the end of the mile-long route, city and state leaders reflected on the civil rights advances that King promoted throughout his life. The speakers at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts also used the opportunity to speak out against income inequality, discrimination and controversies involving President-elect Donald Trump.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar made multiple mentions of the country’s progress. But she also said income inequality, the achievement gap and an unfair criminal justice system still trouble the United States.

“This will not be simple,” Klobuchar said. “Creating change never is.”

Klobuchar praised the accomplishments of Georgia U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the civil right icon whom Trump called “all talk” and “no action.”

Democratic St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who is running for governor in 2018, also criticized Trump, saying much of the positive change in the country could be undone “by a pen or a tweet.”

Morgan Eames, a student from Maple Grove High School who helped organize a walkout after racist graffiti was found in the school’s bathrooms, said she always felt that she had been called to do something about inequality but struggled to find a way to do so. The crowd roared with approval as Eames and two other Maple Grove students spoke, nervously at times, about their experiences.

Eames said she was fearful to go to school, troubled by the racism that she said she had previously encountered.

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said the students’ actions surprised her because many in the state didn’t know how to respond to the graffiti.

“We were struck that it was the students who got it, that the time to do right is now,” she said.

Grammy Award-winning music group Sounds of Blackness also performed their song, “Royalty.”

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