Monday, January 18th, 2016
In front of the cold gray stones of the City courthouse, below the cloudy gray skies of the sprawling Boulder downtown, on top of the frozen red bricks of the Pearl Street walking mall, dozens gathered in overcoats, and mittens and hats, to rally and march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his still pressing legacy of tolerance.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center ( http://rmpjc.org ) organized this year’s gathering. “I think it’s a rallying point for people to come together,” said Betty Ball of RMPJC, “where people can come together and exuberantly make our recommitment to working for King’s dream.”
Speakers, and singers, and poets all shared the microphone before a half-mooned audience. Ira Liss, Thomas Ivory, Jr., and Tim Petty were the 3 representing poets. “Betty Ball said she wanted some poets,” said Leonard Weed, rally poetry host, “and I said, ‘I know some!’
“Ira, of course, is a dear friend…,” Weed added. “I certainly called on him and he answered and showed up.”
“Poetry is from the heart,” Ball said later, “and it really, I think, expresses the things we need to say to one another on a deeper level.”
The Solidarity Singers, a musical group associated with RMPJC, sang, and played guitar and mandolin. Gary Erb, poet and flautist for SS, said the group, “encourage(s) to bring song back to the movement and encourage(s) people to be song leaders.
“It’s something that forms community,” Erb continued, “people singing together, people feeling together… When people sing together and come to know songs… it makes them feel that a better world is possible. It’s something that you can’t feel by yourself.”
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center was founded in 1983 by people who were protesting Rocky Flats, “…that was our first issue we worked on and remains an issue with us today,” Ball said. “We are also working to defeat the TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership. And we are working because the government wants to open Rocky Flats for public recreation, if you can believe.
“We also work to… put the money that goes into war (back) into the social programs that are needed, in this country and all over the world, and work towards peace and justice.”
Many separate groups sought City funding this year to organize MLK Day events. “This year the City (Boulder) did it differently and they weren’t going to have a march and rally this year,” Ball mentioned, “and I said, ‘Like hell you’re not!’
“There are about 5 or 6 cool events that are happening around town today, but there was no mass rallying point.”
“If there are people who are interested in doing these things,” Weed said, “and people who need funding to do a great job of having their event, we should probably do a better job of publicizing that through the City (Boulder) and through the Human Relations department.”
After the rally, starting and ending in front of the courthouse, the march went from end to end of the walking mall, singing “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “Oh, Freedom,” and “We Shall Overcome.”
“Can’t stop the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people won’t stop,” was also chanted.
“You can get together and do it (sing) every single day,” Erb said afterward. “Do it with your friends. You’ll find that you have occasions to perform.”
For more information about the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, visit their website: http://rmpjc.org or call Betty Ball at: (303)903-0412.