Colorado State University, Fort Collins and Loveland Communities Celebrate Martin Luther King Birthday Jan. 17

Members of the Fort Collins, Loveland and Colorado State University communities will join on Jan. 17 to pay tribute to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Events include performances, speakers and a re-creation of the 1963 Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C.

The celebration will begin at 11 a.m. with a program at Colorado State’s Oval followed by a one-mile march from the Oval to Old Town Square in Fort Collins. The theme of this year’s celebration is "Live His Dream: Resolve To Be More Than You Were Before."

Before the march, students interested in learning more about the history of the civil rights movement can attend a presentation at 9:30 a.m. at the Durrell Center on campus.

The community march will be led by Colorado State President Albert C. Yates; Colorado State student body President Eric Berglund; keynote speaker LaMills Garrett; Front Range Community College-Larimer Campus Vice President Jim Butzek; Loveland Mayor Kathy Gilliland; Fort Collins Mayor Ray Martinez; Poudre School District Superintendent Don Unger; Larimer County Commissioner Kathay Rennels; Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Mike Houser; Front Range Community College student body President Staci Barton; Blane Harding from Colorado State’s Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity; and Fort Collins Voices of Unity Choir.

"The Martin Luther King holiday is an occasion for communities across the nation to renew a commitment to opportunity, equality and peace for all people," Yates said. "Through this inspirational march, neighbors, friends, family and colleagues celebrate these ideals and continue to move toward a society in which all people are free to live lives of dignity."

The program at the Oval will include a performance by the Broken Heart Singers, followed by a reading of the winning student essay from Poudre School District’s essay contest. Garrett, a local poet, then will share reflections on Martin Luther King Jr. and a Poudre School District chorus will perform. The Voices of Unity Choir will begin the community march to Old Town Square.

The march will proceed east from the Oval along Laurel Street to College Avenue. Participants then will march north along College Avenue to Mountain Avenue and will enter Old Town Square from the northeast corner of the College Avenue and Mountain Avenue intersection. Traffic along the march route will be blocked off for the duration of the march.

At Old Town Square, the musical group "The Whole Notes with Our Mother’s Daughters" will perform; the winning entry from Poudre School District’s poetry contest for junior high-school students will be presented; and recorded portions from King’s original "I Have a Dream" speech will be played. At the conclusion of the program, participants will be invited to share refreshments and a special birthday cake.

An evening program in Loveland will conclude the day’s events. The program will begin at 7 p.m. at Thompson Valley High School auditorium, 1665 Eagle Drive. Wekesa Madzimoyo, a widely known educator, researcher, consultant and trainer, will headline the celebration. The evening also will include dance performances and readings of the winning student entries in the Loveland Martin Luther King Jr. Day essay contest. Community members attending the evening program are encouraged to participate in a voluntary food and clothing drive for the House of Neighborly Services.

All events are free and open to the public, and are co-sponsored by the city of Fort Collins Human Rights Office, Colorado State University, the Coloradoan, the Downtown Business Association, Front Range Community College, the Loveland Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, the Northern Colorado Multicultural Corporation and Poudre School District. Numerous Loveland and Fort Collins businesses and organizations provided generous support.

Free parking is available at Colorado State in any A, X or Z lot on campus. Free buses will be available to transport marchers from Old Town back to the Oval after the march concludes. Buses will leave from the corner of Mountain Avenue and Remington Street.

In the event of severe weather, the march may be canceled. Check the campus snow line Jan. 17 at (970) 491-7669 for updates.

For more information, contact Brett Perozzi at (970) 491-0965 or by e-mail at