SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Over one hundred people gathered at the Luther Grove Park in Springdale before setting off on a march down Emma Avenue towards the Harvey and Bernice Jones Center for Families in honor of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior.
Dr. King would have been 93 on Jan. 15 if his life was not tragically cut short 54 years ago. Doctor King was killed helping fight for the rights of exploited sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee – today, we continue to honor his memory and legacy of fighting for the equality of all people.
“We commemorate these people who gave their life for something, and stood for something like civil rights or people’s rights,” said Samuel Rivera Lopez, Springdale Community Organizer. “That’s a beautiful thing to stand for.”
The celebration in Springdale attracted the attention of people from all walks of life who continue to stand for the support of others and the path forward.
“We actually cannot do this without each other,” said local actress Natosha Devon. “We actually can’t move forward in a positive way unless we’re all in the room, we’re all a part of the conversation. We’re all moving forward together,” Devon continued.
This message and idea were on full display today. Organizers gave Springdale community members a “Courage of a King” award for their embodiment of courage, leadership, service and love.
During the presentation, Devon presented a monologue in which she portrayed Coretta Scott King, the late wife of Martin Luther King Jr., an activist herself. Devon said the opportunity to represent King was an honor and helped shine a positive light on the women who are sometimes overshadowed by the men from this time.
“We often talk about, the men of the movement, and I think that’s wonderful, but there’s so many women like Coretta Scott King, Myrlie Evers, who did so much work on the back end and it was great to be able to share that,” says Devon.
For the event organizer, Alice Gachuzo-Colin, today’s celebration was more than just spreading the message of Doctor King to her community, the day is also personal. As the daughter of one of the first bi-racial couples in Springdale, Gachuzo-Colin remembers the struggles her family overcame.
“To me, every day I get to say, ‘I live a piece of Doctor King’s dream’ because my parents have literally lived it out in front of me,” said Gachuzo-Colin.
However, she feels right at home here in Springdale and has watched it grow into a community that she says, “is a true, true embodiment of Doctor King and everything he fought for.”
After last year’s event was moved virtually, Gachuzo-Colin was excited to be back in person this year and cannot wait to see what the future has in store for spreading the message of Doctor King – not only on Martin Luther King Day but every day.
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