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Some Roswell residents plan to gather on Monday to honor one of the nation’s most influential historic leaders, while a local church holds “acts of kindness” in the community.
A tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and a discussion of his life’s work will take place on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell on Monday, a federal holiday in honor of the civil rights activist and minister who served caused many people to rethink their attitude to equality and social justice for black people, the treatment of the poor and less powerful, and ways to effect social change through non-violent means.
“We encourage all students and children to show up,” said event organizer James Edwards. “We don’t teach enough about past great leaders.”
Public schools in Chaves County, as well as most government offices, will be closed for the day.
Edwards is a student adviser at ENMU-Roswell and a member of the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. He is also an elected school board member of the Roswell Independent School District.
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The ENMU-R public event will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the common meeting space of the Educational Technology Center, 23 W. Mathis St.
This is the third year the school has held an event, with last year’s commemoration being offered online due to COVID-19 mass gathering restrictions. This year’s event will use COVID-safe practices, Edwards said, including social distancing and requiring a face mask.
Edwards said he would like people to recognize that this day is a chance to remember a leader who has helped many people.
“A lot of times when you want to talk about Martin Luther King, people think of it as a black day,” Edwards said, “and it’s not. It’s an all-inclusive day. , brown, white — the poor, the destitute. When you read his story, he had an impact on a lot of different people.
According to Edwards, the event will begin with a welcome by ENMU-Roswell President Shawn Powell and include a prayer led by Pastor Artis Allen of Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church.
Roswell High School ninth-grade student Dayjha McDonald will read some quotes from King, known for his “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in August 1963 during a march in Washington, DC, among other speeches and writings. He is widely recognized as one of the most gifted speakers and authors of the 20th century.
Pastor Richard Gorham of Ware Tabernacle Baptist Church will also present.
“Pastor Gorham is going to talk about the impact Martin Luther King had on his life and then talk a bit about the life of Martin Luther King,” Edwards said.
The event will also include a video with some photos and memories. Refreshments are also provided.
Church on the Move is also planning activities for the day. In the past, he hosted an “Eracism” community event with prayers and speeches at the Chaves County Courthouse.
This year, volunteers will go out into the community to perform “acts of kindness” and distribute hundreds of t-shirts printed with “Erase the Line,” said executive associate pastor Shawn Kelly.
“God didn’t put that line there that divides people,” Kelly said, “so we just work to get rid of the lines that separate us.”
He said volunteers would help people clean up their properties, buy lunch or food for people, or do other acts of kindness meant to express love for others, as demonstrated by Jesus, whose the words and the work provided a model for Martin Luther. King Jr.
He said other members of the community are also encouraged to participate and post their acts of kindness on social media using the hashtag “erasetheline”.
A representative from the New Mexico MLK State Commission said the group is only coordinating virtual events this year due to the increase in COVID cases in New Mexico in recent weeks. Beverly Jordan explained that a march and free screening of the documentary “American Promise” that had been planned around the federal holiday is slated to take place around the end of February instead.
The federal holiday commemorates King’s birthday on January 15, 1929. He became a Baptist minister in 1954 while completing his doctorate in theology. At that time, he was a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which led him to become the most prominent American civil rights activist of the time, fighting for policies of desegregation and anti-discrimination, among other causes. His many accolades include the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, before a march in sympathy with the city’s sanitation workers who were on strike for pay higher and better working conditions.