BELFAST — About 50 people came out despite frigid temperatures Jan. 22 for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day vigil in front of the First Church in Belfast, UCC.

The event was postponed by bad weather on the Jan. 17 federal holiday. While skies were clear during the event, the temperature was only in the teens. People gathered on the church lawn and walkway, and some held signs remembering King.

People gather in front of the First Church in Belfast, UCC, Jan. 22 for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. vigil. Photo by Kendra Caruso

Event organizers spoke in support of state bill LD 1626, which would amend the Maine Implementing Act to allow the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Penobscot Nation and Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to self-govern within their territories in accordance with current federal laws that govern tribal lands across the nation, according to the Wabanaki Alliance website.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary last spring and was carried to the 130th Legislature last summer.

Organizers also expressed support for the voting rights bill blocked last week by Republicans in the U.S. Senate, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The John Lewis Act would have established new rules for states or territories with a certain number of voting rights violations in a certain period of time requiring them to seek authorization from the federal government before implementing new voting practices, according to Congress’ website.

Organizers recognized some people from the past who lost their lives to racial violence. Those names included the Rev. George Lee, Lamar Smith, Medgar Evers, Jimmy Lee Jackson, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, James Cheney, the Rev. James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, Malcom X and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

They recognized another group of people who have lost their lives in the 21st century to racial violence. Those names included Alton Sterling, LeQuan McDonald, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Freddy Gray, Clementa Pinckney, Walter Scott, Amaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Stephon Clark.

The final group recognized were minors and young people who lost their lives to racial violence. Those names include Emmett Till, 14; John Earl Reese, 16; Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; Cynthia Wesley, 14; Virgil Lemar Ware, 13; Trayvon Martin, 17; Antwon Rose Jr., 17; Tamir Rice, 12; and Daunte Wright, 20.

Meredith Bruskin speaks at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day vigil Jan. 22 in front of the First Church in Belfast UCC. Photo by Betsy Headley

One of the event organizers, Meredith Bruskin, rang a bell after each of the names was read while the crowd remained silent.