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Letter: King should be honored

My first day of public service as an AmeriCorps worker was on Monday, Jan. 16, aka Martin Luther King Day. As I was preparing my social justice event in Glenwood Springs, an acquaintance and longtime resident of the Roaring Fork Valley said to me, ”I just don’t see the point of people in Garfield County needing to have any special events for MLK Day, we don’t have those kinds of problems around here.”

I was stunned by this remark. When I asked him why he was saying this, he responded that “the two main populations here are fully integrated, and having lived here for 28 years, I have never seen any problems between the races and different groups of people.” It’s nice to hear that he has “never” seen any problems, but seriously, we need to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., not just as a man who assisted desegregation in the Southern states, but as a man who lived and died by his Christian principles of love and tolerance for all people.

MLK Day in this valley was not celebrated or acknowledged publicly with any social justice events I could find. I know, because I looked for events as a part of my required AmeriCorps service. This attitude of ignoring the true essence of MLK Day in areas where African-American population is low needs to change. MLK laid down his life to support and protect the rights of all under-served populations and, like Gandhi, he promoted nonviolent action to create social equality and positive change.

I applaud the efforts of local teachers to educate students about King, but it is also essential for adults to honor and actively promote Dr. King’s messages. This is particularly important in these times of increased tension among various groups in the wake of the 2016 election. Americans must continue to promote his legacy and apply his example, no matter where they live. Living in a rural area is not an excuse. Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize and is respected and venerated around the world. Hopefully, next year the community can offer a public forum for adults to consciously promote nonviolent communication among residents of different socioeconomic, racial, gender and religious backgrounds. Promoting these beliefs before we have tension erupting in our communities is just as important as responding to crisis.

Meaghan Owens
Glenwood Springs


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