More than 1,500 people gathered in Fort Collins Monday to march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the principles he stood for, and about 250 stayed afterward for live music and a keynote address at Fort Collins State University. Colorado by Denver artist and activist. JC Futrell, who uses the stage name Panama Soweto.
Students, faculty, and staff from Colorado State University and the Poudre School District, City of Fort Collins, and Larimer County employees who had the day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, elected officials, and Hundreds of other community members marched through closed streets from downtown Fort Collins to CSU.
“I think it’s important to just stay alive and speak out about what’s going on around the world and remember what Dr. King did for us, keep living,” said Daniel Mbadinga, a 15-year-old black student from Rocky Mountain High School. student walking with two of his high school basketball teammates, Avantae Hood and Xavier Harris, who are also black.
“I think it’s very important for my culture to support and recognize everyone who fought for us,” said the 16-year-old Hood.
Families pushed strollers, some people walked leashed dogs, and dozens held signs supporting racial and social justice high above their heads as they walked from Washington Square Park north to Cherry Street, west to Meldrum Avenue, and west to Meldrum Avenue. south to the CSU Lory Student Center. People talked as they walked and participated in a handful of chants.
A formal crowd count was not immediately available from Fort Collins police, who were blocking roads along the route, but an officer said they were told to expect more than 1,500 turnouts. A quick scan of the crowd by a Colorado reporter during the march confirmed that there were at least that many participants, if not hundreds more.
Organizers introduced about 15 “march leaders” involved in issues of racial and social justice and equity in Fort Collins during a brief ceremony beforehand. March leaders — Ludy Rueda and Dolores Mata of the Poudre River Public Library District; Michael Buttram and Roe Bubar from CSU; Daniela Tijerina Benner and Natalie Brown of SummitStone Health Partners; Aparna Palmer, interim president of the Larimer Campus of Front Range Community College; Monica Baucke and Marisa Olivas from the City of Fort Collins; Aloha Arceo Apitz of Poudre High School and student facilitators and staff sponsors of a Youth Diversity Conference at Rocky Mountain High School. All were nominated by colleagues within their organizations.
Olivas’ husband, Chávez Duke, was pushing their 2 1/2-year-old daughter in a stroller as he marched with his wife.
He wanted to come together as a person of color “within a community and obviously support what it’s supposed to stand for (MLK Day) and try to blend in and be a better part of the community and just generally see what kind of support that the community also has and encourages. See how people from different racial groups come together and support that cause.”
Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt gave a short welcome address beforehand, and CSU student Breonna Abuya gave a short speech about a fictional black young man, using facts from real-life situations, whose life is turned upside down at a young age due to racial and racial discrimination. Social injustice.
Protesters included CSU interim president Rick Miranda and incoming president Amy Parsons; Poudre School District Superintendent Brian Kingsley and various members of the PSD Board of Education; several city council members, Larimer County Commissioners John Kefalas and Kristin Stephens, State Representative Cathy Kipp and several other elected representatives.
Stephens, who is also a local 4-H leader, and her friend Katie Piccolo walked with 11 club members who began the day by participating in an MLK Day service project at the Lory Student Center, where they put together care packages to distribute. to the homeless by the Homeward Alliance.
“We feel like it’s important to be a part of our community and do things for the community and give back and show up to people,” Piccolo said.
Isadore Robles, 23, was marching with members of his Latino fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, which grew out of a historically black fraternity, he said.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be here today,” Robles said. “(King) preached many of the principles our fraternity stands for. We need to come together as a unit, as a community, and stand united against violence for nonviolence, our voting rights, civil rights, those principles.
“Being a part of this fraternity has opened my eyes, and I just want to give back to the Fort Collins community and everyone who is a part of it.”
Several participants mentioned building community as one of the reasons they chose to march.
Bolu Folarin was marching with her friend and fellow CSU student, Lexi Johnson. Both 22-year-old black women work with the CSU Black/African American Cultural Center, one of the main organizers of Fort Collins’ annual MLK Day march.
“One of the things I live by is that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, which is one of Dr. MLK’s quotes, and I think it’s always important to show up where it matters,” Folarin said. . “Instead of just being home, why not march for something that was so important many years ago and still prevails today?”