Colorado tradition continues with MLK Marade

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DENVER -- While some of the dreams Martin Luther King had may have been realized, on this MLK Day, nearly 46 years following his death, the economic gap between black and white Americans is still very wide according to the Pew Research Center.

But statistics showing what many already know first-hand, didn’t dissuade tens of thousands from gathering at City Park in Denver, to march in the Marade for King which winds down Colfax to Civic Center Park.

From service, to civic and fraternal organizations as well, people of all hues come to honor the work King did to help knockout discrimination in America.

“This is my first time marching,” said Leah Humphrey, who is a fifth grader at Louisville Middle School. “Me and Leeshia {Taylor-Preston} came to just honor the hero King was.”

Nicole Tembrock came with her two kids of Asian descent, “Just to make sure we acknowledge all the work he did and the work yet to be done.”

And then there were the Webbs—Wilma and Wellington—who both fought long, hard battles on the floor of the State House to get Colorado to set aside King’s birthday as a statewide holiday.

And even after MLK Day became a national holiday in 1983, there were states that refused to recognize it. The last state in the union to recognize the day as a workers' holiday didn't do it until 2000.

With all that as a backdrop for King’s birthday, there are still many things left unsolved.

Black Americans are more likely than their white counterparts to struggle economically, making it harder to get out of financial insecurity.

The job market still reflects how racism affects blacks as they are more likely to be unemployed than white Americans.

The Economic Policy Institute indicates lower rates of educational attainment and lack of access to hiring networks also plays a role in the unemployment rate of blacks. The black jobless rate is twice that of whites.

There is even data which suggests blacks face discrimination when looking for a job, which then affects their earnings.

And in the housing market black Americans were more likely to be targeted by sub-prime mortgage lenders, during the housing crisis. Once the bottom fell out, more blacks lost their homes and now have lower credit scores as a result. The Bipartisan Policy Center shows that the home ownership rate for blacks was lower in 2010 than in 1990.

Still, in spite of gains made in the past 50 years, racism in America is alive and well, or so says diversity expert Royalyn Reid. “Just look at the way the nation was divided on cases like Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen and the Duck Dynasty host. We have a black president, but that doesn’t mean as a county we’ve arrived at the Promise Land.”

Reporter's note:
I am a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, having pledged at Syracuse University. I mention that because Martin Luther King Jr. was an Alpha man too. It was our fraternity which—on the back of a napkin—decided to come up with the King Memorial on the Capitol Mall. Brothers gathered and donated money to build the memorial. And today, dozens of Alpha men along with other black fraternal and civic groups marched to remember the work of Dr. King.

If King was a Bronco fan, he would surely have been proud to see all the orange and blue in the Marade.

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