Martin Luther King Declamation Event

Recreating the March on Washington 1963

by Art Leal on 1/20/2014

“Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist, who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.” Every year UVU honors MLK for his advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. This was our first ever declamation on the lawn of the Ector County Courthouse. It was a beautiful day with approximately 75 people surrounding the Ector County Courthouse main entrance to listen.

The Declamation was an opportunity to recreate the historical March on Washington that took place on August 28th, 1963. By definition a Declamation is an oratory recitation of a classic speech. In this case, MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech. But we wanted to recreate the event as much as possible. So we also included Asa Philip Randolph’s speech, the organizer of the March on Washington. The March on Washington was filled with speeches and music but most of all fellowship. It was important that we also included this aspect in the event. I personally was brought to tears listening to "Let Every Voice Sing" and again during the “Benediction.”

Gene Collins, President of the NAACP Permian Basin, was the perfect person to be the MLK orator. His deep voice and elocution gave me chills. Odell Crawford, President of the Black Chamber of Commerce, was the orator for Randolph. Mr. Crawford’s soft spoken demeanor perfectly resonated the words of Randolph. It was an honor for us to have Stephanie Spencer, an up and coming musical performer, sing “Let Every Voice Sing.” You could hear the passion in her heart. The “Benediction” couldn’t have been sung better by the Highland Church of Christ Choir. All together a very special moment shared in Ector County for a very momentous event in our history.

We are proud to continue this staple event for the community of Odessa TX. We look forward to our continued partnerships with the NAACP, the Black Cultural Council, and the Black Chamber of Commerce.