Martin Luther King’s Day is celebrated on January 16 this year, and the City of Denver will hold its annual Marade (parade and march). The Marade is one of Denver’s biggest events of the year, when tens of thousands of people show their support.
An iconic peaceful activist, Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “What we are facing today is the fact that through our scientific and technological genius we’ve made of this world a neighborhood. And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers – or we will all perish together as fools.” These words ring true as 2017 has begun. Next Monday the City of Denver honors the life and the ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the largest MLK celebration days in the United States.
In the 1990s’ the Marade had incidents when the Ku Klux Klan protested the march. The Klan applied for permission to hold a rally the same day to give voice to their political concerns. While many opposed the idea, the ACLU supported the civil right for them to assemble peacefully. Chaos ensued. Protestors from both sides attended each other’s parades, and soon after, protestors became violent. The police handled the situation and now the two parades do not coincide with each other.
In 2016, Mayor Michael B. Hancock relayed a speech for the crowd but was interrupted by the local Black Lives Matter (BLM) group, who chanted “Let Us Speak,” however the Mayor did not let this stop the Marade, instead he handed the microphone to the leader of the BLM. Additionally, four American Indians in traditional dress also moved to a steady drum beat in front of the amphitheater. The BLM leader said, “For those who refuse to lead,” and the crowd responded, “we refuse to follow.” Mayor Hancock handled the situation as he explained the Marade was for the rights of people of color and for everyone who has lost their life protecting others. As the Marade continued, the event coordinators allowed other representatives from the BLM movement to speak and express their views. At the end of the ceremony, it was realized that “only together” could the community come together as one and help each other.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Marade is an event that looks to bring people together in order to keep the MLK dream alive. His ultimate dream was the hope and the belief that one day all people can be equal. Through the Marade, his dream continues with the hope of achieving reality. This year the BLM was invited to be part of the Marade in order to include the entire community.
The MLK Marade still symbolizes unity, non-violence and equality. There are thousands of children who watch the parade from the streets or on television and are reminded that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for civil and human rights. It is a valuable lesson to learn that unity and equality can be achieved through non-violence.