Advocating peace, equality and community, hundreds of Boulder-area residents gathered Monday to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and to promote continuing the efforts of the slain civil rights leader.
Boulder City Councilwoman Suzanne Jones, speaking to a crowd of more than 200 people on the Pearl Street Mall, said she felt Colorado took some significant civil rights steps this past year with the passage of the Civil Unions Act and the ASSET bill to provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented Colorado college students.
“To reflect, to celebrate and to recommit ourselves to the causes of social justice and equality,” Jones said. “...We've got a long ways to go.”
Helping to spearhead the event in Boulder was the city of Boulder's Youth Opportunities Advisory Board.
“We tried to focus more on the youth this year,” said 15-year-old Malie Minton, a member of the youth opportunities board.
That included having a collection of younger performers and singers and the creation of the #MLKBoulder hashtag to drum up support on social media.
Enrique Franco, director of the Phoenix program at I Have a Dream Boulder County, said the Martin Luther King Day celebration and march carried great significance for his 22 “Dreamers.”
“A lot of our Dreamers are Latinos from immigrant families,” he said. “So they're still fighting for their civil rights.”
Franco started working with the class of nearly two dozen sixth-graders when they were in the second grade. Through that time, he has witnessed an immense amount of growth in the children's grades, sense of community and civic engagement.
Franco noted student Manuel Castro, who had difficulties with schoolwork, but has worked incredibly hard to bring up his grade point average.
“He's proof of it,” Franco said, comparing Castro's growth to the idea of the American dream.
If Castro and the other 21 students get good enough grades this year, Franco promised to take them on a road trip to California and to visit San Diego State University, where he went to school.
“I want to show them that America is small,” Franco said. “I'd like them to see the country as colleges everywhere ... It's just a matter of hard work.”
In Old Town Lafayette, hundreds of people turned out for the Martin Luther King Jr. March for Peace.
The Lafayette event attracted local dignitaries such State Rep. Mike Foote, Boulder County Commissioners Deb Gardner, Elise Jones and Cindy Domenico, as well as Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg and a handful of past and present Lafayette City Council members.
But the day truly belonged to the youth. More than half of those in attendance Monday were students.
Finley Miranda, 9, marched Monday with her mother, Susan. This was Finley's fifth time taking part in Lafayette's annual celebration.
The significance of the day wasn't lost on the youngster.
“Peace is such an important thing. (Martin Luther King Jr.) fought for people to be treated equal,” Finley said. “We're still marching to have peace.”
Doug Pike, of the Colorado Hometown Weekly, contributed to this report.