As the first speaker at CSUâ€™s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, university President Tony Frank likened the phenomena of racism to an allegorical story of a mouse that runs from dark corner to dark corner.
And though the mouse, which represents racism in this allegory, tries to hide in the darkness, Frank said, itâ€™s still there and therefore must be acknowledged.
â€œWe will not tolerate racism,â€ Frank said, imploring students and community members to end the social injustice.
On Aug. 28, 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his now-famous â€œI Have A Dreamâ€ speech from the front steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The speech emphasized non-violent ends to inequality and racial discrimination.
Its influence had, and still has, a lasting impact on civil rights in the United States and changed American culture.
Fewer than four years later, King was shot and killed outside his motel room in Memphis, Tenn.
Monday, on the anniversary of his birthday, more than 1,000 men, women and children of all different ethnicities and racial backgrounds gathered to remember his legacy and celebrate his contributions to civil rights and peace activism with poetry and essay readings, speeches and a march from Old Town to CSUâ€™s Lory Student Center.
Marray Napue, a freshman music major, described the march as a great experience that allowed for a diverse group of people to come together.
As a black student, Napue said he experienced discrimination while growing up in Denver, but now says he believes everyone is coming together to make the necessary positive changes.
â€œYou can come together as a hand, or be five separate fingers,â€ he said.
Jaleesa McIntosh, a junior music therapy major and president of Black Definition, an on-campus student organization that promotes political, social and economic awareness in the black community, used to go to Denver every year for the annual MLK Marade â€“â€“parade and march combined.
She and her family would march the three miles from City Park in Downtown Denver to Civic Center Park, also in downtown.
McIntosh, the vice president of Black Student Alliance and a designated march leader for CSUâ€™s parade this year, said she was â€˜honoredâ€™ when she was asked to volunteer to emcee the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Fort Collins.
â€œWe are not as different as we seem. We are not races â€“â€“Â we are the human race. We are still the same somehow, and thatâ€™s through the human race.â€
As the parade wound its way through the city and ended its route at the university, Bruce Smith, the director of CSUâ€™s Black Student Services and the keynote speaker emphasized two points in his speech:
â€œPaying tribute to the everyday people around us who encourage us to be better people,â€ and, â€œThinking about the ways we can produce counter-narratives to challenge the status quo.â€
His over arching message said to â€œreflect on Martin Luther Kingâ€™s legacy, build community, serve humanity, have self-sacrifice and justice. That is the most important- justice.â€
Staff writer Ryan Sheine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.