ARTESIA — “Artesia, I love you and God bless you.”
Those were the closing words spoken by Dr. Keith Wilks. He was the keynote speaker Monday during Artesia’s Keeping The Dream Alive Organization observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This was the 17th one put on by the organization and during his speech Dr. Wilks talked about what it was like almost two decades ago as the organization was in its infancy.
“I had the fortune of pastoring here from 1999 to 2004,” Dr. Wilks said.
During his stay in Artesia, Dr. Wilks said that Letha Thompson approached him about putting a community wide program together to honor Dr. King.
Dr. Wilks said there was a meeting with former Artesia Mayor Daniel Reyes who then suggested that a committee be put together and then they were to report to city leaders.
“So this Keeping The Dream Alive Organization was started and what we did was we developed a group of people, of all different colors and we decided to try and get a street name.” he said.
Dr. Wilks added that members of the organization went up-and-down 13th Street getting signatures on a petition, “and we presented that to the City Council, they asked us (and said) ‘OK that’s gonna cost so much or let’s get together and see what else we can do.’ In the process, a proposal was given to us to name the MLK Recreation Center.”
It is located on 13th Street and features picnic tables, a splash pad, skate park and volleyball courts.
“We have found that to be very, very helpful,” he said. “Great people here in Artesia, the city worked with us well, I just found in my five years here the people were so loving that when we presented this idea, they got behind us.”
The theme of this year’s program was “MLK 50 Forward:Together We Win With Love For Humanity.”
“I thought it would be very fitting to really look in-depth on some of Dr. King’s statements,” Dr. Wilks said of his speech.
“When I looked, I found I found his methodologies we’re important even for now,” Dr. Wilks added. “I found there were three overarching focus points.”
Those are listening, loving and learning.
“The foundation for the work of Dr. King was loving people,” Dr. Wilks said.
General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.