Amy Stein shares the text of the speech she delivered at Monday's packed MLK Day celebration in Boulder.

MLK Day in Boulder

On Monday, January 19, the Boulder community celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  The day’s events included a march and rally, human rights fair, workshops and main program. Nearly 2.000 people celebrated Dr. King’s legacy at this annual Boulder event.

Amy Stein, ADL’s Boulder Office Community Director, serves as the Chair of the City’s Human Relations Commission. Here is the text of the speech she delivered at Monday’s packed MLK Day celebration:

It is an honor to speak to you today at Boulder’s largest, annual civil rights gathering. As Chair of the Human Relations Commission, I thank you for being here today and for making Dr. King’s birthday a day on, not a day off. I want to talk to you a little bit about the Human Relations Commission…and then where we need to go from here, from this amazing day.

Firstly, huge thanks and admiration go out to Carmen Atilano, Administrator of the Boulder Office of Human Rights. This event would simply not be possible without Carmen’s leadership and commitment. Thank you, also, to the many groups who spent months organizing today’s event.

The City of Boulder is truly a progressive entity. We have an amazing, enforceable Human Rights Ordinance, a City Anti-Bias Policy and a City Hate Crimes Ordinance which is even more inclusive than our state ordinance. The Human Relations Commission is comprised of five of us, appointed by City Council, to hear from you, our community, on civil rights, human rights and social sustainability issues. We act in an advisory capacity to Council, and we even have quasi-judicial powers. We are privileged to have an annual budget, which comes from the .15% local sales tax that this City fortunately just voted up again in November. From our annual budget, we can fund local projects and events, and we can underwrite this incredible annual MLK Day celebration.

One of the most important parts of our monthly meetings is the Public Participation agenda item. It’s always on there, and we always want to hear from you. We meet every third Monday, at 6pm, in City Council chambers. We need your help to keep our fingers on the pulse of this City. Please encourage people to come to our meetings!

This City of ours is progressive and has many individuals, groups and non-profits doing fabulous work to ensure that our community continues on its path to being a truly safe, inclusive, diverse place. I emphasize “continuing on its path” because all too often, we hear people say, “everything is great here, everyone feels welcome,” but we know that’s not true. There is work to be done. We must speak up for our most vulnerable. We must speak up for our young and old, for our homeless and mentally ill. We must speak out when hate crimes occur here, and they do occur. We, as individuals, must speak up when someone makes a biased joke, when someone treats someone differently because of the color of their skin, who they love or how they worship (or don’t workship.) If we are silent, we are in agreement. Silence always means yes. Silence means “I agree.” And silence means “I don’t have a problem with what’s going on.” If you have an issue with something, you must speak up.

Today, as we honor Dr. King’s legacy and the Civil Rights Movement he led, this will be in vain if we are not all catalyzed to act more, care more, love more and speak up more. Let today inspire us to resolve: no hate in our community is acceptable. We will hold each other accountable. We will allow humiliation for none, and we will only accept respect for all.

Your presence here today says a lot. We need to keep saying it throughout 2010. Let’s make this year one where we combat marginalization, where we speak up and out for all who need it, and where we form new alliances and working relationships. We are stronger together, and it will take all of us to make Boulder as beautiful, safe and inclusive as it should be.
Let’s get to work!

About Amy Stein

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