The event, which nationally commemorates the 50th anniversary of King's legendary march on Washington, locally recognized several Santa Fe students, grades three through ten, who placed first in the NAACP essay contest on Martin Luther King, Jr. "This year's essay contest was above all of the previous essay contests" says Fields, a judge in the contest who had estimated she would receive about 70 essays. She says she was blown away to receive more than 400 entries.
Leticia Delgado, a representative, spoke on behalf of the US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, as she introduced the students who shared their essays. "They had us crying, laughing and wishing we had that measure of wisdom," says Fields of the student essays, which included a bilingual essay from the youngest student, Isaias Lopez, a fifth grader at Sweeney Elementary.
Though the day marked a celebration, Gov. Susana Martinez' Chief of Staff Keith Gardner (who stood in for Martinez since she was ill) was quick to distinguish that the day was not only for recognizing a man with a dream but one who also knew the importance of moving forward and changing the nation. He says this is a crucial message following a school shooting in Roswell last week. "We cannot wait as a state for tragedy to strike for us to come together," says Gardner, "We must come together regardless of our differences."
Following Gardener's message, US Rep. Ben Luján, D-NM, affirmed the message of unity.
"Dr. King walked the walk," says Luján. "Until the walk reflects the talk, we have not fulfilled the dream."
With a nod to city councilor and mayoral candidate in attendance Patti Bushee, Mayor David Coss addressed the public. "It has been an honor to be mayor of such a progressive and inclusive community," says Coss, proclaiming Jan. 29, 2014 as the official MLK Day for Santa Fe.
The celebration concluded with a sing-along of "We Shall Overcome," led by Christine Johnson, Santa Fe Branch Treasure.