Thanks to this year’s PSD calendar, students attended only five days of school between winter break and the observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. That adds up to a lot of time at home in the first part of January and might explain why I was extra-motivated to get my boys out of the house and down to the annual MLK March. But the better reason is that I wanted us to experience this local tradition together.
We joined the gathering in Old Town Square on Monday morning a few minutes before the 11:00 start time. CSU’s Blaine Harding, who has taught African American History and Ethnic Studies for twenty-one years, began the event with welcoming remarks and the expression of his desire that our community come together not just for one day but for every day. This spirit of unity includes addressing all inequality as we endeavor to build a society that is not color-blind but color-conscious in the ways in which its members recognize and appreciate each other’s differences.
Thus inspired, we began the march from Old Town Square to CSU. The route led us straight down southbound College Avenue…with Fort Collins’s finest stationed at intersections to stop cross-traffic, of course. I’ve got to say, walking down the middle of one of the busiest streets in town with a few hundred like-minded people was pretty cool. Sidewalks? We don’t need no stinkin’…well, you get the idea.
After local group Fale's drum and dance performance kicked off the celebration at the Lory Student Center, Dr. Tony Frank, CSU President, reminded us that we’ve come a long way but must recommit to the real work of addressing poverty, hunger, and discrimination in our community. Mayor Karen Weitkunat read her MLK Day 2012 proclamation, which included the official-sounding “whereas,” “hereby,” and “shiver me timbers.” (Okay, not the last one, but wouldn’t that be awesome?)
But much of the day’s inspiration came via students: the K-2nd grade art winners, the 3rd-5th grade poetry winners, the 6-8th grade and 9-12th grade essay winners, and the College Spoken Word Winner. They showed in pictures and words, and with emotion and eloquence, that they have dreams, too—dreams for a better world, a world with health, happiness, peace, and prosperity for all. And judging by their determination, they’re not going to just sit around and wait for other people to make things right. They’re going to jump in and be the change they want to see in the world.
Let that be a lesson to us all.