Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted it.

If a room can embody the mood of those in it, then the Black Box Theater at Mesa State College on Monday night was full of optimism and with a shared dream for the future.

In short, it was as Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted it.

Grand Junction came together to commemorate the anniversary of the death of the civil rights activist who championed equality through nonviolence.

It was a night of somberness and celebration with spirited song and dance performances
intertwined with reminders, as Grand Junction Mayor Gregg Palmer said, that King died to bring the hope of equality to minorities, which has been renewed with today’s inauguration of the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama.

“Barack Obama will take the oath of office on a Bible once owned by Abraham Lincoln,” Palmer said. “I hope that symbolism is not lost on you.”

Palmer proclaimed the day Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the city of Grand Junction and said the nation has stepped closer to fulfilling the proclamation that all men are created equal as stated in the Declaration of Independence.

“Obama made one of the greatest achievements by becoming president of the United States,” said Harry Butler, School District 51 board member.

And a loud round of cheering and applause went up around the packed theater.

Stacey and Mariah Lyons sang songs the women wrote in honor of King, and Mariah Lyons choreographed a high-energy dance performance.

Mesa State professor Tom Acker presented a historical perspective of King including civil rights predecessors such as Gandhi and contemporaries.

“These people were not suddenly anointed,” Acker said. “They stepped up to the cause.”

Six-year-old Josiah Goering and his family sang “Oh Happy Day,” and the program ended with “I Believe I Can Fly,” which had several in attendance singing along while in tears.

“Whatever vision or dream we have, we can achieve it. Every African-American child can dream to be the president of the United States,” Butler said. “Not just African-American children but every child.”


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