City celebrates civil right’s leader

Tony Parra

Portales will commemorate one of the nation’s most remembered civil rights’ leader with festivities over the weekend.
The 19th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration begins at 10 a.m. with a parade beginning on South Avenue O and 2nd Street to Abilene to the Memorial Building. Veda Urioste, the Mistress of Ceremonies for Monday’s presentation of recognition and awards in the Memorial Building, is a member of the Cultural Affairs Committee. Urioste, along with Oscar Robinson and Joan Martinez-Terry, are vital parts in putting the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration together.
“The committee was formed in 2000, but we had been working on Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations before we formed the committee,” Martinez-Terry said. “Oscar was instrumental in promoting it (committee) to the council. We could not request funding without a structure and he asked them to do it.”
Urioste said that in previous years the parade began on 18th Street next to the recreation center and made it’s way to Abilene. This is the second year it will go through the downtown area.
The festivities on Saturday are highlighted by a gospel music choir workshop between 1 and 4 p.m. Dr. Barbara Wesley Baker will be performing in the Black Gospel Choir Extravaganza.
“We had a talent show last year,” Urioste said. “Oscar Robinson’s sister knew her personally and she mentioned her to Oscar. They started talking to her and she agreed to come in. We are really excited to have her. I’m looking forward to the concert.”
The workshop will consists of the Portales, Clovis, Eastern New Mexico University, Lindsey Middle School and the Clovis Unity Mass choirs.
“We will have about 100 participants during the workshop,” Urioste said. “We had to purchase music for the event. We needed to buy seven different pieces of music for each individual in the choir. It was well worth it.”
Baker, a conductor and educator lives in Greenbelt, Md., a suburb of Washington D.C. She has conducted master classes at the Toronto International Music Festival and the Choral Music Experience/British Choral Institute in Hertfordshire, England.
“It’s a great way to honor him,” Martinez-Terry said. “It’s also a great way to promote the diversity in the community. We (Portales) are a diverse group.”