Jan 192004
Authors: Brittany Burke

Community members gathered in Fort Collins Monday to celebrate

the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by marching from the CSU

campus to Old Town.

Following a debate about Malcolm X and MLK at the Durrell

center, marchers walked across campus to the Oval and listened to

speakers on the steps of the Administration Building, 1000 Oval


With the theme, “Courage to Build a Community of Peace,” members

of Fort Collins, Loveland and other surrounding areas sang songs as

they remembered MLK. Emcees Delijah Shead, a sophomore psychology

major and Derrick Dease, a Natural Resources Management senior

spoke to the crowd about an ideal community in which peace runs

through every part of the town.

“We must have the courage to build a community of peace in our

schools, workplace, community and streets,” Shead said. “There are

a number of individuals that have come together to celebrate.”

CSU President, Larry Penley gave a short speech explaining the

importance of honoring MLK.

“We must continue the vision of the dream for tolerance of all

people,” Penley said. “We have an individual responsibility to

encourage tolerance and an opportunity for all.”

Recognition of the student poetry and essay winners followed

Penley’s speech. The students read their work earlier in the day at

the CSU Bookstore. The readings were also broadcast on KRFC 88.9 FM

at 6:30 Monday night.

Sesugh Tor-Agbidye, 11, read MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream”

speech and the crowd shouted sounds of excitement when Tor-Agbidye

read “let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado.”

Following the speech, Rev. David Williams spoke of marching and the

reason for singing while doing so.

“(Marches) were a toll that would draw attention to injustices,”

Williams said. “When you are marching try to think about those

taunted by fire hoses. Don’t cry or hold your head down.


Williams spoke passionately about the need for celebration and

the freedom citizens of our country now have thanks to MLK.

“Lock arms and lock hands in this setting,” Williams said. “We

will do that today with the same spirit as MLK.”

The crowd started singing songs such as “This Little Light of

Mine” and “Down by the Riverside” as they marched toward Linden

Street. Police officers stopped traffic to allow the large group to

safely march toward their destination. March leaders included

Penley, Jesse Lauchner, the president of ASCSU, and Ray Martinez,

mayor of Fort Collins.

Once the group reached Linden Street music was played and

marchers once again listened to the words of Rev. Williams as he

localized MLK’s dream to the community of Fort Collins.

“We live in the beloved community of Fort Collins,” Williams

said. “This is where we build, plan, play, pray together.”

Shirl Portillos, a member of the MLK Committee and the Assistant

Director of Resident Life at CSU, wishes the turnout had been

better but seems optimistic about the long-term effect of the


“It’s important to continue his dream,” Portillos said. “I was

concerned we didn’t have more people, but hopefully next year it

will be bigger. These people here will tell others and so on.”

The committee, which has been planning the event since October

2003, moved the end of the march to Linden Street to accommodate

the community members, Portillos said.

“We had a lot of feedback that people couldn’t see or couldn’t

hear,” Portillos said. “This is a wider space that helps those


Rocky Mountain High School senior Melissa Tree, 17, enjoyed

spending time with friends while celebrating the life of MLK.

“I think it’s a neat thing that the community comes together,”

Tree said. “It’s important to be understanding.”

Tree has attended MLK marches in the past and was also unhappy

with the size of the crowd.

“There isn’t as big of a crowd,” Tree said. “I don’t think they

did enough advertising.”

The turnout and events touched Lee Evans, 59.

“(Race inequality issues) have been going on all my life time,”

Evans said. “I am not sure it’s getting better. It’s important to

be part of the solution.”

Evans, a retired school teacher from Loveland, once required his

students to attended MLK celebrations was impressed by the size of

the crowd and the participation of the younger generation.

“The change is going to take place with the children,” Evans

said. “We need to make ourselves heard.”

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