King supporters march through cold

Sherrine Shaw, 12, and Jonathan Johnson, 13, huddle with Jacqueline Pinkett-Smith while waiting for the 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative walk Monday in Clovis. Temperatures were in the low 20s. (CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

Pink cheeked and bright eyed, Connor Salazar seemed unaffected by the frigid temperatures as he happily rode in his mother’s arms Monday morning.

The 18-month-old was the youngest of approximately 60 residents who participated in the 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration despite the temperature being in the low 20s.

“This is his (Connor’s) second march,” said his mother, Shana Weathers. “He was just a tiny baby last year.”

Although the toddler was relatively new to the annual walk, Weathers was a veteran participant. “I have been coming for 11 years,” she said. “I always come to show my support.”

Bundled up in coats, hats and scarves, the participants marched across Clovis, originating at the High Plains Federal Credit Union and ending at St. John’s Baptist Church.

Several vehicles slowly followed the group providing a way for those who couldn’t tolerate the icy conditions to participate in the march.

Halfway through the march, participants stopped at the Lincoln Jackson Family Center where steaming cups of coffee, hot cocoa and plates of cookies awaited them in a warm gym. Entertainment was provided by La Casita Elementary School’s Folklorico dance group.

The group walked in honor of the 1965 civil rights march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., a demonstration against practices that kept blacks from voting in Selma. It was halted when police brutally attacked marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. King led an abbreviated march days later, and the walk to the state capitol in Montgomery resumed once a court ruling prevented the state from stopping the marchers.

But Monday’s Clovis march was a peaceful one, where area youths walked alongside their parents to commemorate King’s legacy of racial equality and peace.

Clovis High School sophomore Maria Brooks said she considered King to be a role model.

“He had a dream and I’m here to follow it,” she said. “If it wasn’t for him, the United States wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Fellow CHS student Diondre Hunter agreed.

“I’m here to show my love for Martin Luther King and for what he did for us.”