Thousands marched down Denver’s Colfax Avenue Monday, celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and reminding Colorado that much work remains to accomplish his goals of equity and unity.
Clouds briefly parted as the huge, diverse crowd made its way from City Park up to Colfax for the annual walk to Civic Center. Among them was Manual High senior Tekyra Miles.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of progress to still get to,” Miles said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re improving little by little.”
Another Denverite, Jarrod Ewing, echoed those sentiments. He wore a jacket with the words “Love All, Trust Few, Do Wrong To No One” emblazoned on the back. “I think we still have a long way to go. I think that there are still some things that still need to be addressed, but the fact of the matter is we're working towards it.
“I've seen a lot of racism just even within the last two years,” he said, noting it’s under the surface in Colorado compared to elsewhere. He described going out in Fort Collins with a couple of friends. They walked into a party, where there were “swastikas and stuff like that. You know, I didn't feel comfortable. I was the only black person there.”
He said his friend apologized for the situation, “but, I would've never known had I not gone to the event. So it's, it's hidden, you know?”
With 2023 serving as an election year in Denver, the crowd was awash in political candidates. More than 20 people are seeking to be the next mayor.
But most of those in the march weren’t there to politic, but to remember the life of a man who fought for social justice.
“I’m just here to be in community with all these people and celebrate the life of somebody who really was an inspiration,” said Lucy Roberts, a Denver school nurse, who said Manual student Miles was inspiring to her.
Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez was marching with a group from Servicios De La Raza. He said he appreciated the diversity of the crowd. “It means a change of an oppressive system to a system that is more inclusive,” he said. “There's a lot to do, but we're going, we're in the movement.”
Other events celebrating King around the state included a wreath laying ceremony in Aurora, and another march in Pueblo, where community members have now petitioned to change the name of Pueblo Boulevard to honor King.
“It’s very important to remember his principles, his ideals and just keep pushing forward for our community,” said Denver marcher Thominisa Thomas, who came with members of her national sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, a national service organization. She and her friends wore the group’s blue and white colors and, like many at the Marade, carried a banner.
“Because Martin Luther King was the ultimate servant leader, it's even more of an honor for us to be able to celebrate our day of service on this day that we’re celebrating him in Denver,” said Marlene Price.
Craig Lamar attended the Marade wearing a yellow and black Buffalo Soldiers Mile High MC jacket; he said the MC was for motorcycle club.
“Martin Luther King did a lot for everybody in the United States and really around the world,” Lamar said. “We have to come out here and celebrate his legacy and remember what he did for us.”
Sixty-nine-year old Berda Steen was one of the few people wearing a mask, in her case one with the stars of the Dallas Cowboys, a bold move in Bronco Country.
She said she’s originally from Texas and that Colorado should be proud of its Marade, which she said compared well with other MLK events she’d seen.
She read the words on a sign she held up for the crowd.
“Nothing can stop the fight for justice and freedom. Nothing. Then on the other side, let the Lord Jesus Christ be magnified. Then I put Jesus on the bottom,” she said. “If they don't know who the Lord is, I'll tell them.”
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