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Day of Peace in Illinois, USA

Chicago, Illinois, USA - This year’s Jericho Walk on the south side of Chicago was a testament to the passion and commitment of its participants as they endured intense weather conditions induced by Hurricane Ike. The morning events were nearly cancelled due to flooding and travel complications resulting from the greatest rainfall in the region in recent history. But Bishop Constance Bansa, Jericho Walk Founder and CEO, maintained her resolve and at 11:00 AM the rain miraculously stopped and the march began!

A diverse group of school, church, and community associations participated in the program. Volunteers with the Universal Peace Federation offered strong support and helped connect the Jericho Walk with the United Nations-sponsored International Day of Peace initiative, founded as a day when all nations should honor a “ceasefire” in their conflicts as a condition to realize world peace.

The program began with a march through the heart of the Englewood neighborhood, one of the city’s most violent areas in the past. Now, due in part to the 13 consecutive years of the Jericho Walk, the area is experiencing revival. The Alderwoman for the local 15th Ward, Toni Foulkes, praised the Jericho Walk for its determination in “tearing down the walls of hatred and prejudice that divide God’s people.” The march ended in Marquette Park, famous for the historical protest march there led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1966.

The second part of the program was called “Spirit Fest” and was conducted from a large covered stage in Marquette Park. Due to the severe rain, most of the performers had cancelled and the city would not allow power hook-ups. Thus, the program was broadcast through handheld megaphones! The spirit was strong, and those who participated exuded the heart and commitment for which the Jericho Walk was founded. Welcoming remarks were given by local political and law enforcement officials. Exciting musical entertainment was performed by local church choirs and youth volunteers from the Universal Peace Federation, who sang their theme song, “One Family Under God.” Awards were presented to outstanding community activists and accolades were returned to the Jericho Walk organizers for their significant contributions to the city. Periods of severe rain drenched the faithful audience but they persevered to the program’s close!

The unity of the diverse Jericho Walk participants was very encouraging. Families in the neighborhood responded positively to the chants of “tear down the walls” and “one family under God,” and many joined the activities. A strong sense was felt by all that this year's experience would be long remembered and their investment would surely bear fruit in the ongoing quest for peace.

To read UPF's Peace Declaration and reports of observances in other nations, click here.

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