Clovis honors Martin Luther King Jr.

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Marchers walk from Potter Park in southwest Clovis to Clovis Christian School at Eighth and Hinkle streets Monday morning in memory of Martin Luther King Jr.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

Roger Groom’s voice bellowed, echoing from the rafters, as he recited Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech in a crowded chapel at Clovis Christian School.

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” he said passionately into the silent air.

“This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ … I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

As Groom concluded, the crowd rose applauding.

The dramatization of King’s Aug. 28, 1963, speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was part of a program held Monday following a symbolic march through south Clovis in honor of the slain civil rights leader’s birthday.

About 200 people gathered Monday morning at Potter Park in southwest Clovis, beginning a march that traveled east on Grand Avenue and ended at the chapel of Clovis Christian School on Hinkle Street.

The procession was a mix of residents and local leaders, and spanned all ages, with children in strollers and on bicycles trailing the crowd.

Raymond Beachum, keynote speaker and youth director for the First Church of God in Christ, took the opportunity to give a motivational speech encouraging youth to work hard and treasure their education.

“Sometimes you got to get down in the dirt to get where you want to be … Every step that you take is not going to be easy, but don’t ever give up. Too many people have just stopped,” he said.

“We want to go higher, we don’t want to go lower. Do you know that we have more black men in jail than have graduated from college?”

The morning-long program included the ceremony at CCS, complete with song and prayer and followed by refreshments.