LOOK: Denver’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade persisted despite freezing temperatures and snow

Over the years, the holiday and march has been an opportunity to comment on current events through the lens of Dr. King’s fight for civil rights.

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Former Colorado Rep. Wilma Webb - who credited with establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday - speaks before the marade leaves City Park, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

Former State Rep. Wilma Webb - credited with establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday - speaks before the Marade leaves City Park, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Despite a temperature plunge that replaced a sunny Sunday with a freezing Monday morning, Denver’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade (part march, part parade) still proceeded from City Park to Civic Center Park with a crowd stretching at least a block long.

The march around King’s birthday has persisted since the late 1970s; at the beginning, it was a protest calling for the state legislature to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King day as a state holiday. In 1984, then-State Rep. Wilma Webb was finally successful in sponsoring a bill to establish the holiday. Despite some resistance in the early 90s, the march has largely been a celebration since the holiday was passed.

Dr. Gregory McDonald leads an opening prayer at City Park. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

Dr. Gregory McDonald leads an opening prayer at City Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Over the years, the holiday and march have been an opportunity to comment on current events through the lens of King’s fight for civil rights. This year, many speakers referred to the divisive policies set by the federal government as they called for justice.

“We’re not going to let no one turn us around,” said former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. “When we collectively come together, and when that person in the White House looks around, there’s always more of us good people than there are white nationalists. We need to call him out for what he is.”

Mayor Webb called for protections for undocumented youth who have status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, established under the Dream Act, whose status is still yet to be decided in Washington.

The Johnsen-Sammen family marches with linked hands. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

The Johnsen-Sammen family marches with linked hands. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Wilma Webb, wife to Wellington, called the president out directly on his numerous divisive statements, most recently reportedly referring to majority black countries with vulgar language. But Ms. Webb’s focus remained on Dr. King’s ideology that emphasized love in the face of hatred.

“We are not going back, we’re not going to take it,” she said. “Love is not silent. Love is active. Sometimes when people are doing wrong, to love them is to correct them. We’re not going to let our country be known for these kinds of things.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade proceeds down Colfax. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The sun peeked through the clouds by the time the procession made it to the Capitol, illuminating the still-falling snow and warming the crowd that had grown considerably since the bleak, chilly beginning at City Park.

Miguel Fojas yells, "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

Miguel Fojas yells, "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Alejandro Fuentes holds a sign in support of immigrants rights. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

Alejandro Fuentes holds a sign in support of immigrants rights. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A woman hollers from her window above the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

A woman hollers from her window above the Marade. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade processes down Colfax Avenue, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade proceeds down Colfax Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks before the parade leaves City Park. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks before the parade leaves City Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade under snow. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Governor John Hickenlooper speaks before the march leaves City Park. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks before the march leaves City Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The audience cheers after the National Anthem was sung. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

The audience cheers after the National Anthem. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Police Chief Robert White can be seen amid marchers during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

Denver Police Chief Robert White can be seen amid marchers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade dignitaries lead the march out of City Park, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; city park;

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade dignitaries lead the march out of City Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Centaur, a Colorado Guardian Angel, looks out after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

Centaur, a Colorado Guardian Angel, looks out after the Martin Luther King Jr. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade leaves City Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest;

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade and East High School under snow. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade has reached Civic Center Park, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; civic center park;

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade at Civic Center Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

This is a very long cake. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; civic center park;

This is a very long cake. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Bishop Acen Phillips speaks at Civic Center Park. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Marade, Jan. 15, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  mlk; martin luther king jr; marade; parade; march; colfax; denver; colorado; denverite; protest; civic center park;

Bishop Acen Phillips speaks at Civic Center Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)