The message to the crowd at Park Hill Church was clear: unite in the face of mounting adversity.
A group of interfaith pastors and politicians spoke to a crowd of about 400 to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born Jan. 15, 1929.

At the time of this event, the upcoming inauguration of President Donald Trump weighed heavily on the clergymen and women and representatives who addressed the room. Trump’s campaign and election magnified a tense time for race issues, such as police brutality, sentencing for drug crimes and immigration. With the holiday falling just five days before the inauguration, the speakers examined King’s legacy in the context of the upcoming presidential transition.

Mayor Michael Hancock spoke briefly of a “spirit of pain” in the community. “If there ever was a time to come together, now is that time,” he said. “We don’t focus on Donald Trump; we focus on each other.”

Speakers such as Bishop Acen Phillips and former Denver mayor Wellington Webb spoke of the civil rights movement in Denver and the importance of the city’s churches in that struggle.

Phillips recalled how he would meet with other activists—from a variety of denominations—in churches to plan nonviolent protest actions. Slowly, they made their way through the city, protesting at businesses from which African-Americans were barred.

State Sen. Angela Williams had recently taken a trip to a clinic on the border of Israel and Syria where they were treating wounded civilians and soldiers. The doctors there held a strict edict to treat anyone who entered the clinic without question, regardless of citizenship or political affiliation. In this spirit, she said, Americans must band together for a brighter, more sustainable future. “We have to learn to live as brothers, or perish as fools.”

The Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance has been the leading clergy Civil Rights organization in Colorado for over 75 years. “Our main purpose is to speak on behalf of the community and our local congregations to address their needs and concerns. We work with legislators, community organizations and other faith-based entities to promote the social and moral welfare and justice for the greater Denver area,” explains Pastor Robert Davis, who serves as the vice president for Social Justice for the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance.