Local residents march in tribute to civic leader

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Members of the Clovis community take part in a symbolic walk Monday morning during the 16th annual celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday in Clovis.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Chautauqua Acy and Mary Graham stood before the Martin Luther King Jr. monument at Potter Park reading the names on the tiles.

They had just finished singing “Amazing Grace” with crowd of more than 100 people who participated in Monday’s symbolic march in honor of the civil rights leader.

Acy, 14, was among a group of teens who led the march carrying a banner as part of the 16th annual celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday in Clovis.

“We’re paying tribute to him and his cause,” Acy said. “If he didn’t do what he did, we wouldn’t have what we have now.”

Graham, 76, said she participates in the march every year.

“I feel the things he had done was done for all,” she said.

Organized by the Clovis Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, the event commemorates the 1965 civil rights march that King led from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., Pollard said. The Alabama march was a demonstration to push for equal voting rights.

“We have tried to keep a tradition going every year,” Pollard said of the symbolic march, which started in Clovis in 1992. “We’re here to commemorate Dr. King in his honor and make sure his dream stays alive.”

About 250 people participated in the three-mile march from the Roy Walker Recreation Center to Patterson Chapel on Ceasar Chavez Drive, according to Pollard.

Pollard said another purpose of the march is to teach the younger generation not to take for granted the liberties they have now for which King sacrificed his life.

“It’s really sad they don’t know about Dr. King’s struggles,” she said.

Roger Grooms recited a portion of King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon at the Lincoln-Jackson Family Center, where marchers took their first break. The sermon relates how King wanted to be remembered as someone who tried to serve others.