MLK Day Celebration Echoes Throughout Northern Colorado

Martin Luther King, Jr. leading the march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the lack of voting rights for African Americans. Beside King are John Lewis, Reverend Jesse Douglas, James Forman and Ralph Abernathy. (Photo by Steve Schapiro/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News

Every time January 1 rolls around, I make a bunch of new year’s resolutions that I never end up keeping, and every time January 17ish rolls around, I make a bunch of promises about doing more to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. that I never end up keeping.  But this year, it’s different!  Not about the new year’s resolutions, I’ve totally already bailed on all of them and there’s no looking back at this point, but doing more to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr?  This year I “have it in the bag” because this year I (and you) have two exciting different options to choose from, in-person or virtually.

We’ll start with the in-person event: for this year’s MLK Day celebration, Colorado State University is partnering with the City of Fort Collins, Poudre School District, and Front Range Community College to sponsor a community-building event.  Also, something to keep in mind is that last year the only option was virtual due to the pandemic, so that’s all the more reason this year promises to be a particularly powerful in-person experience.

I haven’t even mentioned the best part yet!  The keynote speaker this year is going to be Carlotta Lanier of the “Little Rock Nine.”  In addition to the exciting news about Ms. Lanier, there’s also plans this year for an all-new route for the march.

MLK CSU March. Photo by CSU.

Another detail worth mentioning is that this year King’s family will be urging lawmakers and President Joe Biden to pass federal voting rights bills before MLK Day and they’re encouraging all supporters to do the same. Specifically, King’s family is hoping to shed light on the fact that The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act have stalled in Congress, and they’re calling for measures to receive the same urgent attention that the recent $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill received.

Organizers make a good point by stating that though there’s still quite a long way to go in continuing Dr. King’s work, opportunities such as this event both bring communities together to celebrate King’s impact while also reminding folks that his dream, after all this time, still isn’t quite yet a reality.

“We are looking forward to having a great turnout for this important event, which not only celebrates our achievements but emphasizes the need for much more progress in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice,” said Bridgette Johnson, CSU assistant vice president for inclusive excellence. “CSU and our partners are truly invested in making our community more socially just and inclusive.”

The celebration is set to start at 11 am at Washington Park with opening remarks by Claudia Menéndez, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for the City of Fort Collins. The idea with the new march route is that it will take participants past homes where some of the community’s first African Americans lived, and the march will end at CSU’s Lory Student Center ballrooms with a special program.

If you’re interested in volunteering, even the day of, there are multiple opportunities for the celebration and march that will be needed in several locations:

  • MLK Day of Service- Assemble care packages in the Lory Student Center from 8 am – 10 am
  • MLK March- Help block street intersections along the march route starting at 10 am – ~12:30 pm
  • MLK Program & Keynote- Event assistance prior to the march at Washington Park and keynote in the LSC, both starting at 10 am
  • MLK March- Trash collection following the march starting at Washington Park no later than 11 am

For more information and to sign up, please visit their website at lsc.colostate.edu.

Lastly, for my folks in Greeley or for folks just feeling a bit hesitant about attending a large event while the pandemic still lingers, I wanted to mention one other option on how to celebrate this MLK Day.  Going back as far as 2009, Union Colony Civic Center has always been the end location for Greeley’s community MLK day march, as well as hosted a keynote speaker for the event. This year they’ll be partnering with the Greeley Human Rights Commission and the University of Northern Colorado to make this year’s event especially inspiring.  If you’re interested in attending, this event will be held virtually, and those details can be found at their website at unco.edu.

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