Monthly Archives: January 2014

Respect Club members Simone Fielding and Alice Petasek

Missoula’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration

Respect Club members Simone Fielding and Alice Petasek
Respect Club members Simone Fielding and Alice Petasek

Missoula knows how to celebrate.

As the sunlight began to wane on the cusp of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, Coach Wayne Tinkle, University of Montana Grizzly basketball players, and others enjoyed cups of steaming hot chocolate. Members of elementary and middle school Respect Clubs passed out glow sticks as young and old gathered at Caras Park for the Youth Voices: Speaking Up and Speaking Out rally.

Emcees McKayla Hansen and Austin Heaton
Emcees McKayla Hansen and Austin Heaton

Respect Club’s McKayla Hansen and Austin Heaton of Sentinel High School shared their stories to open the rally, then kept things rolling throughout. We were treated to wise words from Trail Bundy of UM’s Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association and Vance Home Gun of The Salish Institute, and to a song from Big Sky High School singer/songwriter Jessy Stobart. Following the rally, many in attendance took part in a lighted march to Saint Paul Lutheran Church for the culmination of the evening’s festivities.

Three young members of the Lewis and Clark Peace Choir
Three young members of the Lewis and Clark Peace Choir

A poignant slide show played as hundreds filed in—filling every seat and spilling into the aisles—to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Montana’s original blues artist, Andre’ Floyd, and the Lewis and Clark Peace Choir sang for us. The winners of the nineteenth annual Martin Luther King Jr. art and essay contest were introduced, too. Preschool- through high school-aged students were asked to respond to this MLK quote: “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.”

In addition to being recognized at the Community Celebration, the top three finishers in each category and age bracket had their winning entries published in the Missoulian. A shout out to Hellgate High School for sweeping the ninth-twelfth grades contest.

We listened to thought-provoking words from Pastor Chris Flohr, Jamar Galbreath, Floyd Kumahlo and Dr. Paul Gordon Lauren. In the keynote address, Dr. Lauren said that fifty years ago, he did not envision we’d elect an African American president one day. Not once, but twice. Nor did he imagine he’d see the day when his preschool-aged grandson would bring home a picture of Dr. King. When asked about the picture, his grandson replied, “That’s King Arthur. He saved the world.”

Would that our world was saved. Changed, yes, but Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work remains unfinished. As the evening’s program came to a close and we prepared to go downstairs to share a community meal, our voices blended in unison as together we sang:

We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.

We’ll walk hand in hand, we’ll walk hand in hand,
We’ll walk hand in hand someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We’ll walk hand in hand someday.

We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace,
We shall live in peace someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall live in peace someday.