MLK event even bigger
Applications to perform or s Swarovski Jewelry peak during the annual parade, which can typically draw 30,000 participants, have doubled this year.
“Maybe they’ve even tripled,” said Vern Howard, chairman of the MLK Colorado Holiday Commission. “We’ve already had to replace one ink cartridge.”
He doesn’t keep exact numbers but notes that it usually takes one quarter of a ream of paper to print the applications, and this year it took nearly a whole ream.
“We have applications to participate in the parade from all the way north to Sterling and all the way west to Grand Junction,” he said.
But some say this year’s celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is somewhat overshadowed by the inauguration of the nation’s first black president the next day.
“Everyone’s talking about the inauguration, and not many are talking about the King holiday,” said Arthur Jones, founder of The Spirituals Project Choir, which performed Friday at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House for King’s 80th birthday celebration.
But for those left behind, history might still be made, in its own way, in Denver.
“Denver always has the largest (MLK parade) except for Atlanta,” said Tamara Banks, who serves as master of ceremonies. “We might outdo Atlanta this year.”
This day kicks off ano Swarovski Jewelry ther convergence of dates in the lives of two famous African American men.
Barack Obama gave his ac Swarovski Jewelry ceptance speech for the Democratic nomination in Denver on the 45th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. And Tuesday the day after the national celebration of King’s birthday Obama will become the 44th president.
“Obviously, it’s just a coincidence,” said Clayborne Carson, director of the King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. “But it wouldn’t have that much meaning if lots of people didn’t see the convergence of their ideas.
“Both of them are trying to reach back into American tradition to say, ‘We have this task of trying to overcome the things that divide us.’ ”
The echo of King is particularly evident to people like Howard, who has devoted endless hours to organizing this year’s MLK events.
“These two great men, both King and Obama, have been able to cross economic, racial and cultural lines,” he said. “They both have been able to pull people together for a common cause.”
He paused, considering how to best articulate the historic convergence.
“The inauguration of a true African American, someone whose father is African and whose mother is American that the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday is the day before the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, the first African American to ever achieve that feat I have to admit, I am at a loss for words.”
Terrance Carroll, the first African American speaker of the Colorado House, looks forward to walking in Denver’s march and parade, commonly called the Marade.
“This one has a special significance with many folks, including myself,” he said. “I really believe we have reached a historical landmark in race relations in this country.”
Jones wants something a little more quiet, a long and reflective weekend in Estes Park with his wife.
“We’ll probably light a candle and talk about King,” he said.
And this summer, as he listened to Obama’s speech at Invesco Field at Mile High, Jones thought constantly about King.
“I was thinking that 50 years ago he had this dream that one day it would be possible for someone to be treated according to the content of his or her character. . . . You can’t have anything happen if you don’t dream about it.”
The congregation of New Hope Baptist Church, rooted in the African American community, plans to be in the heart of the celebrations, marching in the Marade with thousands of celebrants.
“There’s a feeling of being on the cusp of somewhere that we as a people have not been,” said the Rev. Ambrose Carroll.
As master of ceremonies on what is predicted to be a warm and sunny day at Civic Center, Banks expects to feel radiant.
“I’m a crier, so I am sure the tears will be flowing,” she said. “And I’m going to be hugging everyone and just flowing over with a sense of pride.”
But the e Swarovski Jewelry motions go deeper than pride.
“It’s a feeling that we really do belong, that the black American community has a place in history not just black history, but American history,” she said. “It’s finally feeling, ‘OK, I can unpack my bags.’ “