On this past Monday, Denver celebrated it’s Thirty-Fifth “Marade” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Marade was created in 1986, right here in Colorado by Wilma Webb, a state legislator who was also married to Denver’s first black mayor, when she combined march and parade. It starts in City Park near the MLK statue, goes down Colfax and ends at Civic Center Park. I have been attending for quite a while now, and I personally love it. It’s a great way to see communities come together to celebrate on Dr. King’s birthday and see how diverse Denver is. But seeing it when I was on an assignment allowed me to see things from a different point of view.
I have always seen the crowds of people, but now I got to experience interviewing them, and seeing what brought them there. I first met Jeremiah age 10, and his mother, Linda. Jeremiah has been coming to the Marade for 3-4 years. When I asked him what his favorite part of the Marade was, he told me, “We get to represent black people. We used to be slaves and had to sit in the back of a bus, so I couldn’t sit with my friend.” Linda was no newcomer to the Marade. She has been coming for over 20 years. She told me, “About 30 years ago, there was only 500 people, so it’s good that today, there’s a lot more people. And every year it’s a little bit different. You really get a compass of what’s going on the world today when you come here, by the people that are here and what they represent and the different signs, and it’s nice.”
Jeremiah and Linda were not the only ones who loved it. I got to meet Virgie Washington and Jill P. Jenkins. Their favorite part of the Marade was seeing everyone come together. “It makes me feel good, and that’s why we come out,” Jill tells me. “Because this is what the world really is. The faces of our nation.” The community and love between cultures was also a favorite thing of theirs. Especially seeing the future generations and cultures side by side. But they believed that we still had a long way to go in civil rights and democracy when asked.
The Gonzales family also attended the Marade. Sarah and James Gonzales, the mother and father of three kids, were very proud of Dr. Kings work and the impact it could have on their kids lives. “It was definitely our motivation for making sure we got out here so that they can be a part of something that the community comes together and celebrates,” Sarah said to me. “They are very aware of who Martin Luther King Jr. was and the principles he stood on, but it’s still important for us to make sure that they understand that,” says James. They also believed that their children should grow up and have a future and be able to go after their dreams. I talked with Elijah, who is 14. He wants to be an engineer in robotics and hopes that in the future, his siblings will have peace and be able to accomplish their dreams.
Aside from the people, the march on its own was wonderful. Mayor Michael B. Hancock started us out with an inspirational speech in front of the MLK statue, reminding marchers to “walk with a purpose”. There was singing, laughter, celebration and diversity. We have to march for civil rights and embrace our future, just like Martin Luther King Jr. And sometimes, the beauty of diversity feels worth fighting for doesn’t it?