Hundreds of Fort Collins citizens march for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Stuart Smith

Hundreds of Fort Collins community members marched from Old Town Square to the Lory Student Center ballroom Monday in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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The Fort Collins Community participates in annual the Martin Luther King Jr March by walking down College Avenue on Jan. 16, 2017. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

The march began in Old Town Square, where students and community members gathered for the annual march of remembrance.

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While the main purpose of the march was to celebrate the accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., marchers also had personal reasons for participating.

Colorado State University student Frida Mugica was there with her multi-cultural sorority.

“The majority of us identify with different races and so we’re volunteering today,” Mugica said. “We’re really passionate about this kind of stuff, and a lot of us even have ethnic studies minors and majors, which is part of the department of (Dr. Ray Black).”

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Colorado State University’s Ethnic Studies Professor, Dr. Ray Black, speaks on the motto of the march, “Justice Now” and honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s action on that motto (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

Dr. Black is an assistant professor of ethnic studies at CSU and the director of the department’s internship program. He was also a leader of the march Monday.

Another marcher, Susan Moore, has been part the march for decades.

“I’ve been taking part in this march almost all my life — 30, maybe 40 years,” Moore.

Once the marchers arrived at the LSC ballroom, there was a ceremony with speeches and awards for various leaders of the movement.

One of the dignitaries of the ceremony was CSU President Dr. Tony Frank, who gave a speech about how to keep the movement going.

“When we find an issue that matters to us, we care, we’re outraged, we march. And then we don’t,” Frank said. “We don’t forget exactly, but we don’t entirely remember either. Those of us with privilege move on to other causes, other issues, other preoccupations. All those that stood in the midst of the storm with the rest of us, or viewed from the distance, also with time, typically, to find a way to cope, and a way to move on.”

Frank questioned when those with privilege would choose to act and choose not to, and challenged the community to stand for justice consistently.

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“At what point do we look up from our preoccupations, do we look each other in the eye and say ‘enough is enough.’ … At what point does a threat to justice somewhere affect us enough so that we stand up and respond to affronts to humanity, to human dignity, to common decency? At what point do we say, “the time for justice is in fact now”?

Frank said that the continued existence of the march in Fort Collins year after year reflected the community’s commitment to social justice.

“In a way, all of us are saying by our presence here that we are unyielding in our expectation, that we refuse to stand silently, that we value justice more than comfort, that we will tirelessly, ceaselessly, breathlessly, work for justice in our neighborhoods, our cities, our campuses, our country, and in our lifetime. The time for justice has always been, and it remains, now.”

The commemoration ended with K-12 Fort Collins students reading their award-winning poems, and with a spoken word poem by CSU student Michelle Mendoza.

Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @notstuartsmith.