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Students stand up for human and civil rights at annual Spokane unity march

Camina and Winnie stand on a street corner in downtown Spokane. They turn toward each other laughing.On Jan. 19, nearly 60 Whitworth students and faculty joined about 2,000 people in downtown Spokane to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., and to support furthering race relations in America.

Among the students who participated in Spokane's annual unity march were Camina Hirota, '17, a psychology and Spanish double major, and Winnie Tupailesa, '18, a freshman in Whitworth's pre-med program. Both Hirota and Tupailesa feel strongly about building on the legacy of King's work as it relates to Whitworth's mission of equipping students to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity.

"We are honoring God by recognizing the humanity and dignity of all His people, and we are following Christ by standing with the oppressed," Hirota says. "The march is a reminder of where we've been, a reflection of where we are, and a vision for where we are going. People who take part in the annual march are celebrating the American ideals of freedom, even as the fight for freedom continues. It's important we don't stay silent."

Tupailesa also feels it is important to represent Whitworth in the unity march. "Having Whitworth participate in the celebration is important because it shows that colleges, even ones in predominantly white areas, are full of students who are passionate about civil rights for all people," Tupailesa says. "It's an important moment in which the Whitworth and Spokane communities can come together and embrace a significant moment in our nation's history."

After graduating from Whitworth, Tupailesa plans to attend medical school in Seattle, before coming back to Spokane to work in the city's hospital system. Hirota is currently planning to earn a master's degree in social work.