Portales March Demonstrates Town’s Diversity

Oscar Robinson delivers the governor’s proclamation and opening speech at the Portales Memorial Building on Jan. 20.The Chase Photo: Rebecca Darrup

A diverse group of students and local residents followed in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in a peaceful march from the Portales Memorial Building to Eastern New Mexico University on Monday, Jan. 20.

“The only way you can measure society is by what it achieves,” said Oscar Robinson, Cultural Affairs Chair and the event’s emcee, quoting one of his college professors. In that sense, Portales is carrying out King’s dream.

“King’s dream is being met, but it has not been met,” said Robinson. “A lot of his dream has been met…look in this community here…I think this country has made great strides.”

Robinson opened the march with the reading of the governor’s proclamation, and after Johnny Pacheco shared a prayer at the event. The Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard led the march of residents and students through Portales. Among the group were teachers, students, young, elderly, athletes and musicians from a wide range of hometowns and different walks of life.

“I think we have plenty of work to do, but boy did he [King] give us a great start,” said Lana Goodman, a fourth-grade teacher at Valencia Elementary. “You have a voice and you can make a difference without it being violent.”

Tammy Sharp, who teaches third grade at Valencia Elementary, stated the importance of teaching her students to stand up. “I think it’s especially important for our kids to know that, being teachers for our kids to know, hey, you can stand up.”

After arriving on the ENMU campus, participants of the march enjoyed refreshments in the Campus Union Building. Speeches during the program at the CUB included educational awards by Rey Coss, chairman awards by Robinson, the Dolores Penrod Award and musical performances by the ENMU Choir with the Portales High School Choir.

“We can be friendly, we can be helpful, we can say ‘no’ when it’s necessary to say ‘no’…we can be respectful, we can appreciate everybody’s rights to say what they need to say, but we don’t need to be violent, because Martin Luther King believed in turning the other cheek,” Robinson said.

This event was sponsored by the City of Portales Cultural Affairs Committee, ENMU, Portales Public Schools, and the New Mexico State Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.

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