AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — There was not a march for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year, but instead a day of service hosted by the Amarillo branch of the NAACP.
The day of service started with a community cleanup effort. More than 150 volunteers showed up to help as they started at the Warford Activity Center.
“We were looking forward to the march, but we got even more excited when we realized it was going to be a day of service,” Tamara Clunis, the director of the roaring lions pathfinder club, said. “We think that it’s great. We believe that Martin Luther King would want us to give back to the community because that’s what he did.”
After the clean-up, community members shared a meal. More than 30 vendors were there to show the public the various social services available to the community.
Finally, they hosted a community meeting called “79107 matters” to address the concerns of people living in the area.
Melodie Graves, the co-chair of the day’s events, said meeting the needs of the community falls right in line with Dr. King’s mission.
“I think, at a time right now when we have so many issues as an African American community, that people need to understand what Dr. King stood for,” Graves said “It’s important to know where you came from. That’s the only way to know where you can go.”
City and county leaders and candidates for public office were in attendance to hear from the community about what matters to them.
“This is a day of action and it’s time for elected officials to actually serve those they are elected to represent,” said Patrick Miller, who sits on the Board of Regents at Amarillo College. “Having this event is important because it provides a connection and you can put a face with a name. You can perhaps bridge that divide, even if it’s just an invisible one, between the voter and their elected official.”
For Mildred Darton, the president of the North Heights Advisory Association, the events were about hope and the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
“We know the dreams still live even though some of the older people sleep the long sleep and we need to continue telling the story to the ones that’s coming behind,” Darton said, “because they need to know that we don’t only stand on shoulders, we stand on headstones.”
Some of the issues discussed at the community meeting include the future of Amarillo policing without Chief Drain, fencing and security at schools in AISD, and of course, how to keep fighting for Dr. King’s dream.
Each of these events was organized by the NAACP Amarillo Branch as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
Graves said they might go back to having an MLK Day march again in the future but want to focus on pressing issues in the community first.
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