Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church and History Colorado are both planning events this month to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s three-day visit to Denver.
Montview Presbyterian is planning an appearance on Jan. 19 by Vincent Harding, a friend and colleague of King’s. Harding, who lives in Denver, is a professor emeritus of religion and social transformation at the Iliff School of Theology.
In addition, the church is organizing a panel discussion to talk about the diversity of Park Hill.
“This 50th anniversary does seem to be a special opportunity to talk about MLK’s visit to Park Hill and what that meant 50 years ago, but more importantly what is happening now and heading into 2014 … and specifically what is the context of this in our faith communities,” said church Rev. Sheri Fry. Check out the GPHN website for updates on dates and other details for the panel discussion.
Kevin Pharris, a consultant with History Colorado, said the museum decided to sponsor its Denver Divinity Tour to highlight King’s 1964 visit, along with February Black History Month.
“We go and explore houses of worship for historical and architectural content,” Pharris said. “History Colorado does this tour every few years, and this year’s theme was easy because of anniversary.”
Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church was an obvious choice on the bus tour, as it was the site of the largest congregation to gather during King’s visit. Also, Pharris noted, the church is in Park Hill, the first neighborhood in Denver to resist segregation, and also where the federal court school desegregation case Keyes v. School District No. 1 had its beginnings.
The two other churches on the tour this year are Shorter AME, at the southern end of the Five Points neighborhood at 20th Avenue and Washington Street, and Zion Baptist.
Zion Baptist, at 24th Avenue and Ogden Street, has been the house of worship for many famous black Coloradans. They include, Rufus Felton, the first black teacher in Denver, and Thomas Riley, Colorado’s first black citizen. Dr. Justina Ford – a black woman doctor who was only allowed to treat other blacks when she moved to Colorado in 1902 – was also a member of the congregation, as were former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and his wife Wilma, a former legislator.
The date of the bus tour has not yet been set. Cost is $36 for History Colorado members $46 non-members. For more information contact Shawn Snow at 303-866-3683.