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Colorado Commissioner of Education Dwight D. Jones Marches with Others at Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade

January 21, 2008

Led by a torch and flame, thousands of marchers approached downtown Denver after a three-mile walk in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

The temperature hovered around 10 degrees during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Denver today but the feeling and spirit from the event was warm and upbeat.

Prior to Dr. King’s tireless efforts, many in our country simply accepted the way society functioned, with some people given second-class or even third-class status based on the color of their skin. His speeches and the demonstrations he led—driven by such a clear sense of purpose and doing what was right—changed a nation.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Senator Ken Salazar walked together in the front row

Dr. King said that “the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."

Today we must ask ourselves the same questions Dr. King might pose about our priorities and about our sense of urgency in reaching our goals.

We cannot look at today’s results from public schools and be content. The achievement gaps associated with race and poverty are evidence we are not doing all we can do. We cannot slip into complacency...

Said Dr. King: “We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.

Denver Public Schools Board of Education President Theresa Peña and Commissioner Dwight Jones

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”

The marchers on Monday may have struggled to stay warm, but gathering together to remember Dr. King’s unwavering resolve was worth every chilly step.

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