MLK Day caravan continues as locals line up to drive Reno’s highway named after icon

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 6:11 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Dozens of locals from all different walks of life lined up in Reno to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an annual motorcade on the Northern Nevada highway that dons the name of the civil rights icon.

In 1998, after a steadfast effort from local civil rights legend Reverend Onie Cooper, the stretch of I-580 from Mount Rose to Bordertown was named after Dr. King. For many years, the Reno community has come together on MLK Day to honor Dr. King by driving on the highway named after him.

“Our main thing is to make sure we continue the idea and vision of solidarity among all of us,” said Donald G.T. Gallimore, an organizer with the Reno-Sparks chapter of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “We wanted to make sure his ideals were maintained. That we consistently live them every day, living in peace and love.”

Rev. Cooper, who also fought in World War II, passed away in 2011 at the age of 86. His wife, Mary, helps continue his legacy of fighting for equal rights and representation in Northern Nevada. She says the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t pause this special event.

“To see this show of support for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s very overwhelming,” said Cooper, who lost her father to the virus in April of 2020. “When I turned into the parking lot and saw all the cars, I just started clapping.”

The caravan was led by an escort from the Reno Police Department. Normally, the line of cars travels from South Virginia all the way to Stead, covering most of the MLK Jr. Highway. But because of ongoing construction and to promote safety, 2021′s installment was abbreviated - from Neil Road to Glendale Avenue.

Cooper says this tradition was too important for too many people to not continue.

“It gives the people hope that if we do come together in a peaceful manner, like Dr. King wanted, we can accomplish something,” said Cooper.

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