The Martin Luther King Day Celebration in Fargo, ND is #northofnormal. The King legacy sometimes feels like a textbook legacy, although a few residents I know of have powerful connections to the Civil Rights movement. The late John May and local basketball legend was a kid living in DC during the March on Washington; Rebecca Knutson’s father joined the march on the Pettus Bridge in Selma. Many local activists are deeply inspired by King’s work, the Civil Rights Movement, and contemporary continuations, but the city as a whole, and specifically the City Government, has been #northofnormal when it comes to embracing the event.
I didn’t discover the MLK Day celebration in Fargo until 2014, which is disappointing because it launched in 2002 and my good friend and mentor Larry Peterson was recognized in 2004. I need to take some responsibility for being oblivious; my community engagement didn’t really deepen and emerge until 2014. But the City’s promotion of the event strikes me as having been fairly passive for quite a while: a few billboards around town, and only the past few years, a Facebook event.
For 2018, however, the City’s Human Relations Commission seems to be bringing the event to the public. The billboards are still up, but the Facebook event was created about a month ago—an appropriate announcement that has a set time, place and date. The event has received updates, including profiles of the performers (that’s new!) and tonight, they shared a news story about Hamida Dakane, the recipient of the adult award. To the best of my knowledge, coverage has usually been day-of, after the event coverage, so here’s hoping that a preview story, announcing all the winners, performers and times will boost attendance.
The Fargo Human Relations Committee, which solicits nominations and makes the awards, might have taken the social media strategy into their own hands this year. They have their own Facebook page (although only 134 followers), but in the past, the event was simply handled under the City’s page. The city has over 4,100 likes, but their MLK announcements reminds us that “All garbage and recycling collection will run on schedule.” No mention of the event, no cross promoting with their own HRC commission.
Is this a case of limited social media knowledge, or political reticence on the part of the City Government to really embrace the MLK Day celebration? Your informed comments are welcome.
How will you support the Human Relations Commission and help spread the word?
Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration,
Monday January 15th, 2018,
6:30 pm start (usually goes until about 8:00)
Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway
Come see Fargo at its most diverse and find your place in the community.