Colorado remembers Martin Luther King, Jr., with a parade, rodeo, community service

Martin Luther King
Former state Rep. Wilma Webb, who organized the first Marade, addressing the crowd ahead of the march Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Denver.

Colorado is honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. with marches, service projects, performances and a rodeo. In the nation’s capital, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama took part in a service project in honor of King's life and legacy.

Tens of thousands of people, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, marched in Denver's annual "marade" Monday. 

Sixth-grade math teacher Ken Miles said he's been coming to the parade for 10 years. This year in particular was very "energizing" he said.

Martin Luther King
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock' at left, gave such a rousing address ahead of the Martin Luther King Day "Marade" on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, that several speakers who followed referred to him as "Reverend Hancock." A statue of King stands at right.

"I can't wait to get back to school and share some of these experiences with my students."

Another parade attendee, Katrina Simms, marched in a T-shirt with the slogan “I can’t Breathe” – the final words of a New York City man who died in a police chokehold last year. 

"We want people to know black lives do in fact matter. They are just as important as any other life," she said.

Maria Alaniz, Martin Luther King Jr.
Maria Alaniz, of Denver, holds a portrait of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. along with a montage of images of President Barack Obama as she waits for a parade honoring King, Monday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Denver. 

Also in Denver Monday, the MLK Jr. African American Heritage Rodeo of Champions will takes place at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, and the 30th annual Dinner for Those Who Hunger is hosted by Volunteers of America in Sunset Park.

As part of Boulder’s Martin Luther King, Jr. 2015 commemoration, the Dairy Center will screen the critically acclaimed 1970 film “King: A Filmed Record…From Montgomery to Memphis.” Following the screening, a panel of community leaders will discuss the film. 

Colorado College, the University of Northern Colorado and Fort Lewis College are hosting discussions on topics ranging from the Michael Brown shooting to the displacement of Native Americans due to coal mining along with movie, dance performances and marches.

King's daughter is calling on people to celebrate her father's legacy of acting out against injustice but also to remember his message of nonviolence.

Bernice King invoked the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City and the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta today, saying many have been gunned down "not by a bad police force but by some bad actors in a police force."

Martin Luther King Day, Los Angeles
Members of a group named "Suits in Solidarity" hold signs  while marching during the 30th annual Kingdom Day Parade in Los Angeles on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. The 30th annual Kingdom Day Parade honored the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday under the theme "Love & Respect: Let It Begin With Me."

The actor who played the slain civil rights leader in the movie "Selma," also paid tribute at the service. David Oyelowo choked up as he told the crowd that he felt the King's pain, his "burden" and the love he had for his family. The actor who, like King, has four children says he stepped into King's shoes, and wondered, "How did he do it?"

In Selma, Alabama, on Sunday, Oprah Winfrey and other actors from the movie "Selma" marched with hundreds in a tribute to King, one of many events around the nation ushering in Monday's federal holiday.

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was among them. She was the youngest person to take part in what's known as "Bloody Sunday," when a march for civil rights at the Edmund Pettus Bridge was met by police with clubs and tear gas on March 7, 1965.

Crossing that bridge in 1965 "was terrifying,” she said.

Photo: 2015 Denver Marade
Parade marshals join hands before thousands of marchers set of in Denver on Monday.

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, are honoring the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in a community service project.

The White House says the couple will help with a project at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

The organization helps youngsters develop the skills they need to become responsible adults.

Obama, Martin Luther King Day 2015
President Barack Obama participates in a service project at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy, on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Washington. 

In a proclamation issued last week, Obama said the U.S. has made "undeniable progress" since King agitated for justice and equality for all. But Obama says securing the gains requires "constant vigilance, not complacency." He called on everyone to stand together for good jobs, fair wages, safe neighborhoods and quality education.

Speaking in Delaware, Vice President Joe Biden says minority communities around the country need to work to bridge the separation between police and the residents they serve.

At a breakfast honoring King, Biden said communities and police departments need to build relationships of trust.

"There's no reason on earth we cannot repair the breach that we've recently seen between law enforcement and minority communities," he said.

Biden did not mention a weekend incident in which several gunshots were fired from a vehicle speeding by the driveway of his Delaware home. Biden and his wife were not home at the time, and there were no reports of injuries.

Police continue to investigate the incident, which prompted the Secret Service to boost security at Biden's home.

Elsewhere across the U.S., the King holiday is being celebrated with activities including plans for a wreath-laying in Maryland, a tribute breakfast in Boston and volunteer service activities by churches and community groups in Illinois.

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