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'The least we can do:' Many plan to attend Marade on Martin Luther King Jr. Day despite freezing temperatures

Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Aurora honors Dr. King during service on Sunday
'The least we can do:' Many plan to attend Marade on MLK Day despite freezing temperatures
Posted at 5:47 AM, Jan 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-15 10:26:35-05

AURORA, Colo. — On a chilly Sunday afternoon, people packed into Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church to honor, remember and commemorate the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The ecumenical service was spearheaded by the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, and Dr. Syl Morgan-Smith is a member of the group who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the service.

“The Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance is honoring the preacher, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was in politics, he was in a lot of things, but at his core, he was a minister of the gospel," Morgan-Smith said.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is much more than a holiday or long weekend, Morgan-Smith said.

“It's not a day off, it's a day on - because Dr. King was always about service," Morgan-Smith said. “I have come to know what we fought for, we must fight all over again, and that's just disheartening... As Dr. King taught us, if you don't have freedom, life is not worth living.”

When asked if there was a quote or speech from Dr. King that resonated with Morgan-Smith the most, she did not hesitate to answer.

“That speech that night he died. That is my favorite speech. He says 'I may not get there with you,' but it will happen. And likewise I say to my great grandchildren, I may not see all of the freedom that you are going to see, but just keep walking and walk together children. Don't you get weary. There will be freedom for all or freedom for none," Morgan-Smith said.

Sitting next to Morgan-Smith in the front row of the church was Rev. Dr. James Peters Jr., who marched with Dr. King dozens of times.

“I knew him as someone that I deeply respected and admired, because he was willing to put his life on the line for the sake of what was going on in America," Peters said. “I was often amazed at the dedication. He wasn't afraid... He was a person who really believed what he preached, and what he preached was love for people, for telling the world that segregation is wrong. It's evil, it's un-American, and we have to do something about it.”

Peters said the impact of Dr. King, and the entire civil rights movement, is difficult to put into words.

"What it has meant to me personally is more than I could tell you," Peters said. "It's changed my life, because I believed in his life.”

Pastor Frank Jones and First Lady Evangelist Tywanna Jones attended the service on Sunday and have plans to brave the cold on Monday for the Marade, a tradition in Denver for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“I plan to go to the Marade, bundled up," Tywanna said with a smile. “It's going to be very frosty, but our ancestors, they marched in conditions where they didn't have shoes, or the right kind of shoes to wear possibly, they marched where they didn't have buses, they marched hungry. And to spend an hour in the cold will be a great honor, to do that for them.”

The dedication shown by those who attend the Marade in freezing temperatures echoes the impact of what Dr. King means to the country, Peters said.

“That's the least we can do. He gave his life. Remember, he died for this," Peters said. “We need to be sure to keep this dream alive."

'The least we can do:' Many plan to attend Marade on MLK Day despite freezing temperatures


Many plan to attend Marade on Martin Luther King Jr. Day despite freezing temps

Colette Bordelon
5:47 AM, Jan 15, 2024

There are several changes implemented for Monday's Marade because of the extreme weather. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission (DRMLKJRCHC) discourages the attendance of senior citizens, small children, pets and anyone with underlying medical challenges. Programs have been shortened and there will be a 30 minute delay to the start of the march, meaning it begins at 10 a.m. at City Park.

The bike ride, another tradition that is part of the Marade, has been postponed.

The post-Marade program at Civic Center Park was also canceled.

In a release, the committee stated they are "committed to ensuring the safety of all of our participants. Due to the weather conditions, individuals who are not comfortable participating are encouraged to celebrate the holiday and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through alternative methods. These could include volunteering at a local non-profit, assisting neighbors, checking on seniors in your community, etc."

That same release asked participants to prepare for the cold weather in a number of ways, which are copied here:

  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing and a hat.
  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and warm/hot drinks.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Try to stay dry and out of the wind.
  • Wind breakers are recommended due to anticipated wind chill.
  • Hand and feet warmers are recommended.
  • Minimize exposed skin and be aware of early signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

Updates on the Marade will be posted on the DRMLKJRCHC website and the group's Facebook page.

Many plan to attend Marade on Martin Luther King Jr. Day despite freezing temps

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