Man’s walk to Petersburg will recreate civil rights struggle

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Petersburg man will walk from Suffolk to his hometown next week to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Suffolk in 1963.

Carl Winfield’s three-day journey will take place over the 45th anniversary of King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. In addition to honoring King, he is protesting what he sees as current injustices against black people in Petersburg and Prince George County.

Winfield said he marched with King during several of the civil rights leader’s visits to Virginia, including the one to Suffolk in June 1963 for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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“I want to give Dr. King the honor that he deserves for helping people,” Winfield said.

He plans to begin his walk at the old Obici Hospital site and head up Route 460 all the way to Petersburg. Winfield says he walked from Petersburg to Washington, D.C., four years ago on King’s birthday, and this will be the prequel to that walk.

“It’s all adding up into my life that he wants me to finish my journey,” Winfield said.

Winfield said he plans to fast during the walk but will carry water with him to ensure he does not get dehydrated.

Upon arrival in Petersburg, he hopes to campaign to get a new library in Petersburg named after Wyatt T. Walker, who led a sit-in at a segregated public library there in 1960. He also hopes to press for converting part of a Petersburg bus station into a civil rights museum, then traveling to Prince George to urge city leaders to approve a group of businesses proposed by a black man.

“This walk means a lot to me,” said Winfield, who invites anyone to join him. “If people want to join us in Petersburg to do a little walk, come with us.”