Riverside neighborhood has gotten worse, speaker says
Martin Luther King Jr. may have led a march toward equality, but there are more steps to take before that goal is reached.
That was the message Steven Enos-Martinez, a Redlands Middle School Leadership for Education, Achievement and Graduation advocate, shared at Monday night’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Mesa State College.
Enos-Martinez, one of three speakers at the event, said the election of President Barack Obama signaled progress, but more is needed to achieve true equality for all people.
“In Grand Junction, it is indeed business as usual. In my neighborhood, things have gotten worse,” Enos-Martinez said of the Riverside area. “School comes second behind having a place to eat and stay.”
People need to remember King’s struggle and “raise the bar on our expectations” for what he would want accomplished in the name of equal opportunities for all, Enos-Martinez said.
Mesa State President Tim Foster agreed during his turn at the microphone that there’s still work to be done.
“We all look forward to that day we’re judged by what we do and the content of our character rather than the color of our skin,” Foster said.
King’s nonviolent methods taught a lesson “about how we can disagree without being disagreeable,” Foster said, something he sees as a timely reminder of how important civil dialogue is in light of conversations about modern rhetoric after the recent shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson, Ariz.
District 51 School Board member Harry Butler said in his speech Monday that children need to learn from an early age it is not OK to hate.
“You can be an ambassador of peace to the world, starting now,” he said.