Youth focus of MLK day events

Liliana Castillo

By Liliana Castillo

Freedom New Mexico

Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations in Clovis and Portales are centered around teaching King’s philosophies to youth.

Both cities have events planned to honor the civil rights leader for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17.

“It’s important for the youth to know about Dr. King so they can carry on,” Clovis’ MLK Commission Chairwoman Joyce Pollard said. “All of us will not be here to do this work. It’s important that the youth be there to do that, to help his dream come alive.”

King pushed for nonviolent advancement of civil rights. Pollard said teaching youth to be nonviolent is important in a world where violence is increasing.

“There is so much violence in the world today. It’s getting worse…so it should really be emphasized that nonviolence is the way,” Pollard said.

Clovis will celebrate with a scholarship breakfast 9 a.m. Jan. 15 that features guest speaker Clovis Christian Superintendent Ladona Clayton.

The MLK Commission will award two $1,000 scholarships during the breakfast. Clovis Municipal Schools students who won first, second and third place in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship competition will read their award-winning speeches.

The deadline to purchase tickets for the breakfast is Wednesday.

Portales will celebrate on Jan. 17 with a memorial march from the Roosevelt County Museum to the Memorial Building led by the Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard. Portales students will also read selected writings of King and other writings King enjoyed.

Pollard said celebrating what King taught is the only way to pass on the dream.

“We should be a city that is caring and try to help someone,” Pollard said. “He (King) talked about being a servant. You don’t have to have a lot of money to serve others, anyone can do that. We want to promote the spirit of unity and togetherness. That’s part of how Clovis is anyway, but it should be emphasized to make sure we remember.”

Portales City Councilman Oscar Robinson is organizing events for the Portales Cultural Affairs Committee.

Robinson said one student will read King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I can get up and say all these things but it means more when a child reads it and it will be with them for the rest of their lives,” Robinson said.

Robinson agreed with Pollard that celebrating King will pass along his teachings.

“It’s important that young people don’t sleep through this revolution,” Robinson said. “We need to keep kids involved in real life concepts. Life is not easy. It took a lot of people to struggle to get us to where we are.

“Our country is made up of individual sacrifices. If we talk about them and celebrate them, the dreams and freedoms we say we’re fighting for mean something to them,” he said.

The MLK Commission will host the commemorative walk in Clovis 9 a.m. Jan. 17 from Potter Park to Lincoln-Jackson Family Center and on to the intersection of Seventh and Main streets to commemorate the walk from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. A rally will follow at Legacy Life Church with Rev. B.J. Choice as the rally speaker.

Pollard said Choice began the Clovis MLK commission as a grassroots movement in 1991.

“We’re so pleased he accepted to come and speak with us,” Pollard said.

Pollard said the Commission chose Clayton as the breakfast speaker because she has a Christian outlook on life.

“She’s concerned about today’s youth,” Pollard said. “From her background and her philosophy, we all agreed we need someone like her to get the message out there. I think she’s one that Dr. King would be pleased with.”

Pollard said celebrating King and his philosophies boils down to promoting humanity.

“It’s not based on religion or color or culture or ethnic background. It’s just based on man’s humanity. This (nonviolence) is what the world needs more than anything now. More love and more of Dr. King’s philosophy to do the right thing and distribute that and show it and put in action,” Pollard said. “It’s time for words to be deeds now.”