City highlights diversity at MLK celebration
By Eden Silverthorne | New Mexico Daily Lobo
Last updated: 01/19/10 12:17am
Mayor Richard Berry and Congressman Martin Heinrich showed their support on Sunday for Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring dream.
The New Mexico Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission honored King’s vision with its annual holiday parade and march beginning at the intersection of University Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.
More than 1,000 people attended the event, which ended with a commemorative ceremony at Civic Plaza.
Heinrich said he encouraged audience members to continue working toward Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream by speaking of King’s efforts to promote social equality through his fight against economic injustices.
“I’ll leave you all with Dr. King’s own words to encourage your effort,”
Heinrich said at the ceremony. “‘If you want to be important — wonderful. If you want to be recognized — wonderful. If you want to be great — wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.’”
Berry honored the presence of King’s vision in Albuquerque by applauding the city’s diversity.
“We are a city that doesn’t simply accept diversity, we celebrate diversity,” Berry said.
The march was open to the public, and the parade lineup consisted of nonprofit and educational organizations such as the YMCA and AmeriCorps.
Joella Redmon, state commission executive director, attended the parade planning meeting on Friday at City Hall and said at the meeting that the community was excited about participating in the parade.
“I was really happy with the number (about 30) and variety of the organizations that wanted to participate,” Redmon said.
Redmon said the crowd was evidence of Albuquerque’s culturally diverse environment, which promotes social acceptance of others — something King envisioned.
At Civic Plaza, the Albuquerque High School ROTC began the ceremony with a presentation of colors, followed by the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by community member Taylor Lord and a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance by both Lord and community member Anesha Yazzie.
There were also performances during the ceremony, such as traditional Laguna Pueblo dancers and a djembe drum piece by Phillip and Paul Palmer.
Members of Highland High School’s We The People group performed a skit about the freedoms Americans have, such as the freedom to vote and to lobby the government.
Lord sang a verse from James Weldon Johnson’s African-American national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and audience members joined her.
Devonte Watson, a 15-year-old Albuquerque resident, read Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech toward the end
of the ceremony.
Redmon said she was grateful for the elected officials and organizations who sponsored the event and to the public for their participation.
“It’s you who made this happen,” said Redmon to the crowd. “Thank you so very, very much.