The 4th annual MLK Jr. Memorial Luncheon in Rio Rancho sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was an inspiring and uplifting occasion. Attended by at least 400 people, the Club Rio Rancho was bursting at the seams trying to seat everyone. The event’s organizer, Rev. Dr. Charles Becknell, reached out to a large number of groups to include the diverse political, ethnic, professional, religious diversity of the community and his efforts were overwhelmingly successful. PDACNM sponsored a table at the event but sponsors were encouraged to join other tables in order to get to know the members of the community. The Rio Rancho Tea Party mayor sat at the Progressive Democrats of America table!! I saw our friends Ann and Dick Harrison, life-long advocates for justice, sitting at a table with the Rio Rancho police. The speaker and Dr. Becknell acknowledged Senator Fred Harris in the crowd and paid tribute to him for all his accomplishments.
The speaker Dr. Marcus Gooodloe, a pastor and former UNM quarterback, spoke about the progress made for racial and social justice but that much more is needed and the only way to overcome inequality and injustice is to help each other in a community effort. It was an obvious appeal for unity. At the end of the 3-hour lunch, the crowd stood, held hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.” At that moment the dream seemed possible.