The event began with a wreath laying at the "I Have a Dream Memorial" at City Park at 10 a.m.
Around 10:30 a.m., participants in the annual Martin Luther King Day Marade, which stands for the combination of a march and parade, went south of City Park into the State Capitol grounds and then to Civic Center Park. The three-mile long marade ended with a rally at Civic Center followed by speakers and music. The day's events will finish Monday evening at the African American Heritage Rodeo, a longstanding tradition.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is among the participants.
The marade is meant to gather and give information to people, and several organizations marching in the marade use the opportunity to raise awareness.
"The door has opened. Like what Martin Luther King and President Johnson were saying 44 years ago is now at our doorstep," Virgil Robinson said.
Haiti was a central theme of the marade and Haitian Goodson Beaugelin, who moved to Colorado from Haiti several years ago, wanted to be sure the people of Colorado remember those who are suffering.
We think this is a good opportunity for people to see there are Haitians here in Colorado," Beaugelin said, "So they can send doctors, nurses over there to help people in Haiti. But they have to understand Haiti's . . . a failed state, so now is an opportunity for all the nations to do something to help this country."
Barbara Shannon-Banister is part of the MLK Colorado Holiday Commission and she echoed Beaugelin's comments.
"While this is a celebration for a great American hero, we need to remember about the people who are suffering now and you know this could happen to America. It could be a traumatic, well, we saw Katrina," she said.
King's birthday was declared a Colorado state holiday in 1984.
In 2009, the marade was held the day before Barack Obama was sworn in as president. About 20,000 people participated.
Many at this year's marade reflected on the event a year ago at this time when they were talking about the inauguration of the country's first black president.
"There are a lot of minorities in leadership roles now, but the young people, we need to get them into it, so they can take over," Avis Simmons said.
Now they say the focus is on future generations preserving the history.
"The patience is gone in this society. Everybody wants everything instantly, that's what's changed. Dr. King told us that we had to crawl before we could walk, and we had to walk before we could run. Young people today don't have the patience that I had, or that my grandparents had, they're running for it," Ed Jackson, American Legion Post 29, said.
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