On a cold Monday morning, almost 50 people gathered at the southwest corner of Tucumcari’s Northside Park to pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King by marching a short distance and then attending a brief service in his honor at a nearby church.
The people, ranging from youths to senior citizens, walked approximately half a mile to commemorate the marches that King led and took part in during the 1950s and 1960s throughout the United States and then attend a service at Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
According to Mount Calvary Baptist Deacon Paul Bell, organizer of the event, he was very happy with the turnout for both the march and service which followed.
“It’s a nice turnout,” said Bell, “especially when you consider that people have work and kids are in school. There were a number of conflicts, so I didn’t expect it to be an overwhelming turnout.”
Bell also said often the first year of an event such as the march and services for King can be very small. He said he would anticipate larger numbers in upcoming years.
Despite the conflicts with schedules, taking part were ministers businessmen, students, teachers and retired individuals. While their backgrounds were different, for the most part, their reasons for going on the march Monday morning were the same.
“I want to show my support for a very great man.” said Bill Greenfield, 78, of Tucumcari.
His feelings were echoed by a younger member of those present to honor King.
“I’m here because he did a lot for many people,” said Angela Sanchez, 12. “He marched for everybody. He worked for everybody.”
Caroline Bell agreed with both Sanchez and Greenfield in her regards for King.
“I’m here celebrating Martin Luther King and all the things he did. I’m here to give him some of the recognition he deserves for what he’s done for everyone.”
After the memorial march, the marchers gathered in the church to pay tribute to King. Bell welcomed everyone who took part in the march, Rev. David England of the First Baptist Church of Tucumcari led those gathered in prayer, scripture was read songs were sung, biography was presented by Pagie Evans, the official proclamation commemorating Martin Luther King Day was read by Sundra Span and a 15 minute film about King was shown.
Bell said he came up with idea of the march and services after he watched a number of Martin Luther King Days come and go in Tucumcari and nothing was done to honor the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
“So I decided to do something myself,” said Bell.