Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration to feature host of virtual activities

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration includes a virtual homage to Dr. King’s protest marches in 1965 along the 54-mile highway connecting Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery.

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Colorado State University is going virtual.

While there won’t be the traditional march from Old Town Square to campus, there will be a host of virtual activities for members of the CSU and Fort Collins communities. Planned virtual events include the screening of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day video, featuring CSU and community leaders, as well as an homage to the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches led by Dr. King.

Full event details will be available on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at mlkfortcollins.org. The celebration is a joint effort between CSU, City of Fort Collins and Front Range Community College as well as a host of other campus and city partners.

This year’s theme of “Where do we go from here?” provides an opportunity for introspection, according to Bridgette Johnson, managing director of diversity, equity, inclusion and student success.

“My question to the community is: How are you being? Not just, what are you doing?” said Johnson, who is leading the organization efforts of the celebration. “Because we can do a lot of things, but if we are not doing an introspective look of how we are showing up as a person and how we are being in our true, authentic way, then everything we do is in vain. Whatever we come to know about ourselves after being, I think our actions will be more authentic and effective.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day video

On Jan. 18 at noon, a prerecorded video will premiere on the website focusing on this year’s theme. Plans for the video — which is currently in production — include remarks by CSU President Joyce McConnell, Front Range Community College President Andrew Dorsey, Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell and Poudre School District Interim Superintendent Todd Lambert.

The video also will feature a medley of songs by Melissa Edwards, associate director in the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry who will sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black national anthem. There also will be additional songs and dances by students.

Student radio KCSU 90.5  will be simulcasting the celebration as well as dedicating three hours to “Freedom Fighting” songs from the 1960s through the 2000s.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day website

Full event details will be available on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at mlkfortcollins.org.

When the website goes live on Jan. 13, a variety of activities and resources will be available for people of all ages.

Johnson said the Poudre School District is planning to provide information about the Civil Rights Movement for teachers to use in their curriculums. She added that the school district is planning on creating a video that compiles student-generated videos celebrating the life of Dr. King.

Johnson said City of Fort Collins is working on building a history website on the first African-American settlers in the city. She added that the city is planning a tealight luminary bag walking tour of the first African-American settlers in Fort Collins.

At CSU, there will be a projection illumination on the steps of the Administration Building on honoring Dr. King Jan. 17 and 18, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Honoring Selma to Montgomery marches 

This year’s celebration will include a virtual homage to Dr. King’s protest marches in 1965 along the 54-mile highway connecting Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. It took thousands of peaceful protestors five days to march between the two cities.

Johnson said organizers are encouraging people to honor the numbers five or 54, whether it’s reading for five hours or running or swimming five miles or even biking 54 miles between Jan. 16-22. Participants will be encouraged to share using the hashtag #FOCOMLK2021 on social media.

As part of this recognition, the CSU Police Department is coordinating a first-responders bike ride on Jan. 16, according to Johnson. There will be a five-mile loop around campus as well as a 54-mile course around the city.

While this year’s activities are virtual and socially distant, Johnson said she appreciated the partnerships forged across the community.

“I’m very happy to say we have robust opportunity here,” she said. “We’re really working closely with our partners, and we’re pleased that we are still pausing to celebrate while still acknowledging the city and campus still have a lot of work to do as we fight for justice.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration

 On Jan. 13, organizers will unveil the schedule of events and more details on the virtual activities for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at mlkfortcollins.org.