Under gray skies citizens from across the Western Slope filled the courtyard in front of Grand Junction City Hall Monday to help mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Organizer David Combs spoke to the crowd about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the importance of continuing to honor the civil rights leader.
“Honor this individual on this day,” Combs said before the event. “Get out and do something for someone. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be in front of a group. Even if it’s a single individual. Just do something for someone.”
Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart attended the event and said he was honored to read two proclamations adopted at the City Council’s most recent meeting. The first declared Monday as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and honored his work and legacy. The second proclamation declared Grand Junction to be an inclusive city and urged citizens to “create a society that condemns racism, misogyny, intolerance, discrimination or oppression toward any person.”
“I think the subject of inclusivity and diversity are so critical to our community as well as other communities,” Taggart said. “The more accepting we are of all people the better we are as a society.”
The event also honored the work of local police and a plaque was given to both Grand Junction Police Department and Mesa County Sheriff’s Office representatives.
As part of the “get out and do something” message, Combs asked Marcus Alexander to speak at the event.
Alexander was the man who talked a 19-year-old woman, who was contemplating jumping, off the edge of the Broadway Bridge in July.
Alexander said after the event that he thought showing the woman he saved humanity helped change her mind. He said humanity was something Martin Luther King Jr. understood well. Alexander, who had eschewed recognition for his acts said he agreed to speak to tell people that everyone is capable of doing what he did.
“Just remind people that anyone can do that and should do that,” Alexander said. “Humanity is important. The power of humanity is important. It’s important to be human and to love people.”
Amina Uben, of Hotchkiss, said she was excited to hear that Grand Junction had a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march.
After all the remarks, those in attendance marched from City Hall to Handy Chapel, a historic black church founded in the 1890s, and then on to Colorado Mesa University.
“I think it’s just really important for the city of Junction that we have this happening here,” Uben said. “Just to me, as a black person, it puts Junction on the map in a different way from what I had seen it as before.”
Barb Trowbridge who was attending the event for the first time said it was important to show support for the cause of equal rights and to remember that there is still more to do to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.
“I respect Martin Luther King Jr. for what he did, and I think it’s important to celebrate that and also to continue that work because there is still a lot of work to be done,” Trowbridge said.