Huge Turnout For Denver MLK Marade, Many New Faces
Above photo: A young marcher carries a sign during the 30th annual Marade to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Denver. Photo: David Zalubowski
From Popular Resistance reader Michael Anderson:
I wanted to share info. on the MLK Marade in Denver last Monday. There were many groups involved in peaceful resistance on just about every issue from immigration to war to healthcare to TPP to Citizens United & more. The groups I was involved with were No Enemies & the Denver Freedom Riders. We sang songs for the entire march with a sample of that here:
The turnout I am told was the largest in the nation at roughly 40,000. The group I was with did a 4.5 minute die in right at the front of the procession & stopped the entire march for that time. There were some words with the chief of police but no real problems. This was followed by a 3.5 hour conference put on by the Denver Freedom Riders that was an amazing display & discussion of community solidarity. The turnout for that was way beyond expectations & overflowed the venue. It is a beautiful rEvolution!!
By Jesse Paul
Nina Billings’ 7-year-old daughter, Zoë, said she was more interested in watching Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Denver than actually marching in it.
But Billings told her daughter that watching wasn’t enough — she had to join in to understand.
The two arrived early at their first Marade march to soak in the atmosphere, Zoë bouncing around in her tennis shoes, wide-eyed and looking up at her mother for direction. Billings told her daughter, who before the celebration read books about King and listened to his speeches, that the massive turnout was proof “the dream is still alive.”
“It’s important for her to understand not just that Martin Luther King helped my daughter go to school with white people,” Billings said. “He represented the rights of all people.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock estimated 30,000-plus gathered at City Park on Monday morning and marched downtown as part of the city’s annual Marade. The crowd called — or rather bellowed — for more than just progress in race, marching also for social justice, education reform and health care equality.
Monday’s celebration was bolstered by thousands of first-time participants, motivated to march by the protests over the deaths of black men at the hands of police. Activists said this year’s parade was especially significant in the aftermath of the “black lives matter” movement.
“We feel like we had to support the community and what they are trying to do,” said Katie Larsen, who marched with her five young children and husband, all participating for their first time. “I want them to know it doesn’t matter what the color of our skin is. We are all important parts of the community.”
“As far as we have come as a people, we still have a far way to go,” said Nneka McPhee, who has attended the march for years and was with her children Monday.
McPhee noted how Monday’s march was a far cry from the near-riots that were caused by the Ku Klux Klan protests at Denver’s Marades in the 1990s. Growing up a bi-racial child in Denver, McPhee said she was keenly aware of the hate.
“My children don’t even see it now,” she said.
Hancock spoke several times before and after the march, encouraging the crowd to continue King’s fight and also celebrating the staggering turnout that turned Colfax Avenue into a sea of chanting people.
“Are there any beneficiaries of the dream here today?” he asked the marchers, who roared back.
Many donned “I CAN’T BREATHE” and “BLACK LIVES MATTER” T-shirts, which have become ubiquitous phrases protesting the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City. One person held a sign reading “JE SUIS MARTIN/BE THE DREAM,” invoking the recent terrorist attack in Paris.
Denver’s march was one of several across the state, spanning from Pueblo to Fort Collins, during which scores heeded calls to “take the day on” as opposed to taking the holiday off.
“It’s about time the people stood together,” said Eddie Wilson, who has marched in nearly every Denver Marade. “The world is in chaos, and the struggle is still going on.”