Temperatures in the teens and sidewalks piled high with snow forced participants in the annual parade to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to trade in their winter garb for hot chocolate, free drinks and comfortable chairs in the Lory Student Center Theatre.
The parade, scheduled to send community members from the CSU Oval to Linden Street in Old Town, was cancelled for the first time in the event’s history.
“I was looking forward to the march,” said Noberto Valdez, an anthropology and ethnic studies professor who addressed the crowd as the event’s keynote speaker.
“There is something fulfilling about a group of socially conscious people gathering to accomplish a particular goal.”
Valdez spoke to the audience about the importance of remembering King during what he called difficult times in America.
Citing the war in Iraq, immigration issues and Medicare, Valdez said it was necessary to remember the struggles King went through in order to ensure social justice.
Valdez said King is remembered best as a man, not the icon of the civil rights movement.
“The focus of one man on an entire movement diminishes the importance of the struggle,” Valdez said. “It gives us a feel-good attitude that encourages an intellectual passivity.”
Valdez said we must understand that King felt fear, faced bigotry and overcame many hurdles in his life.
“We are sometimes too fearful of life to participate willingly,” he said. “He was a man who built his road by walking it.”
The audience, including former U.S. House candidate Angie Paccione and current state House Rep. Randy Fischer, was given a musical performance by CSU graduate student George Jackson III and sang along with the Lab School for Creative Learning to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “We Shall Overcome.”
“He really was a catalyst,” Paccione said. “It’s critical to remember the work that he’s done, but also that the fight is never over.”
Staff writer Bob Shipton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.