The wind blew cold and the participants in the annual Martin Luther King Day/Equality Day events remembered those less fortunate than themselves, even without the annual march and service at First United Methodist Church.

Vicki Pollock was among those who donated coats for Project Homeless Connect in the parking lot between the Wyoming Food for Thought Project and the James Reeb Memorial Park.

Pollock handed them to volunteer Janet deVries, whose SUV was already stuffed with coats collected during the day.

The donations were part of the alternative to the annual march canceled due to COVID-19.

But changes wrought by the pandemic spurred some creativity.

Allison Maluchnik is the senior program manager for ServeWyoming, which coordinated the Equality Day/Martin Luther King Day of Service and Remembrance.

"This year we couldn't have the march, and we couldn't have our usual ceremony, so we're doing all this online and virtual," Maluchnik said.

The online virtual program this year focuses on the Casper Freedom Trail featurred on a map on ServeWyoming's website that marks 20 locations where the Black community and the civil rights movement made their marks in the community.

YouTube video recounts some of the events at those locations in more detail.

"As a Casper native and creating this project; there are so many stories from the Black community and how integral they were in the civil rights movement both locally and nationally," Maluchnik said.

"It was so eye-opening to go through these places and learn things about my own community, so we hope everyone else will have this same experience and learn more about the history of Casper," she said.

For example, Maluchnik knew of the civil rights activist the Rev. James Reeb, who was murdered by four men in Selma, Ala., in 1965, but learned far more after speaking with his granddaughter, she said.

One place new to her was a building at 1717 E. Yellowstone Highway that was the home of the Casper Colored Community Club, the Yellowstone Lodge Elks Club, a servicemen's club, and a meeting place.

In the video, Casper activist RC Johnson recounted that the building also was a meeting place for a Townsend Plan Club.

The club in Casper and thousands of others nationwide were the brainchild of Dr. Francis Townsend of California who proposed the Old Age Revolving Pension Plan, a private plan for people to contribute to the elderly. Its popularity pushed President Franklin Roosevelt to push Congress to create Social Security.

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