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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Community engagement for civil rights legacy

Foto por Danielle Whitaker. CSU Pueblo y miembros de la comunidad empiezan a marchar en honor a MLK Jr, desde la Biblioteca Rawlings hasta el museo El Pueblo History Museum.

By Danielle Whitaker and Hailee Langowski

On Jan. 16, the community and campus came together for a march in downtown Pueblo to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy. Dr. King was a Baptist minister and an American civil rights movement leader. This day remembers his work and accomplishments. It is a day to help others. Volunteers help by giving food to people experiencing homelessness, mentoring disadvantaged youth and improving the community. 

The “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day CommUnity March” was organized by the City of Pueblo, the Pueblo branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Colorado State University Pueblo (CSU Pueblo) to remember Dr. King’s life and legacy. The march was from Rawlings Library to El Pueblo History Museum.

At 11:45 a.m., individuals waved American flags and carried MLK Jr. posters that read “Yes, We Will Go On” and “The Time Is Now to Make an Impact!” Community members, including Dr. Timothy Mottet, Mayor Nick Gradisar and local pageant queens, attended the march.

Sariyah Ridenour, winner of the 2023 Yes Ma’am Pageant and first alternate for the 2022 Miss Juneteenth Pageant, states, “We’re going to be marching up the street… protesting problems [and] marching together as one whole, just like Martin Luther King Jr. wanted.” 

Speakers and community service began at the El Pueblo History Museum, including litter cleanup, community garden building and food distribution. 

The Community Garden Sustainability Project created a new garden plot to increase community engagement and health resilience by providing equal access to locally grown, affordable food. The Pueblo Food Project and community garden leaders collaborate.  

Rocky Mountain Service Employment & Redevelopment (RMSER) and other organizations encouraged volunteers to create “food bags” with tuna, granola bars, fruit cups, water bottles, soup, toothbrushes and more. 

Volunteers delivered around 500 food bags to people experiencing homelessness and people in need. Communities on the East Side, in the Bessemer neighborhood, and downtown at the Pueblo Rescue Mission and El Pueblo History Museum received food bags.

It was a day full of celebration, learning, giving and helping. 

On Thursday, Jan. 19, the CSU Pueblo Black Students Union, NAACP Pueblo Branch and representatives from CSU Pueblo and the community discussed social justice during a public panel titled “Social Justice and the Status of America Today.” Six panelist discussed various local societal issues that must be addressed and evaluated.

President of Pueblo MLK, Jr. Holiday Commission, Ray Brown, discussed, “There is very little employment for young people… [there aren’t opportunities] to elevate young children that grow up here, so they leave.”

El Movimiento Sigue is a Chicanx social justice organization in Pueblo advocating for undervalued and underresourced communities. The President, Denise Torrez, stated educational opportunities should be equitable. She said, “We push for the community school model to change how we address the education system.” She also mentioned working on local programs to help lower incarceration rates. 

President of Pueblo NAACP and Education Chair Roxana Mack said we are isolated. Community groups and organizations must collaborate. She said, “We need to put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes because you want the best for yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors. We should want for them as you want from ourselves.”

President of the Black Student Union at CSU Pueblo, Shaylan Wilson, said that resources like the Center for International Programs and Inclusive Excellence in the Occhiato Student Center (OSC) provide a safe place to talk about equity, diversity and excellence. “It is about ensuring each student in [underrepresented] groups know that they matter. Knowing their education matters. Knowing they have somewhere/ someone to go to when they need assistance,” she said.

Retired Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at CSU Pueblo, Dr. Collette Carter, mentioned that we need concrete objectives for why we are working together. She said, “Is there an issue in your neighborhood? Are people dumping garbage? Do you see this as a problem? Can we come together and find a solution?” We need to take small steps toward empowerment, and you can be a part of that.

The evening’s guest speaker was panelist Grants Manager and Program Officer at CSU Pueblo’s Institute of Cannabis Research, DuShante Carmon. He talked about how we could all work together to spread Dr. King’s message:

“Being willing to talk to others, respectfully share your thoughts… Let’s not be scared of people based on their appearance.” Instead of “I’m offended because I don’t understand you,” talking about “Hey, I want to understand you. Let’s sit down and have a real conversation.”

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