Handy Chapel and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Grand Junction's historical Handy Chapel will host an event honoring community members on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


Cultural Diversity Committee honors Martin Luther King, Jr., and community members

The Colorado Mesa University Cultural Diversity Committee celebrates the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. this month with a series of events honoring King and community members.

On Jan. 18, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the committee has organized a symbolic march from Grand Junction’s City Hall to the historic Handy Chapel at Second Street and White Avenue.

Following the march, there will be a program paying tribute to King’s tremendous efforts advocating for civil rights. The committee will present the Harry Butler Community Service Award to CMU Trustee Dan Robinson. 

Harry Butler was an active Grand Junction community member who died in 2013. He served on the Grand Junction City Council from 2001-2005 and was known for his dedication to his faith and for helping others. He also served eight years on the District 51 Board of Education and was an ordained minister who often led services at Handy Chapel. The award is bestowed upon someone who has contributed greatly to the community as a whole. This is the second year that the service award has been conferred.

The day’s events will also include a tribute to Josephine “Mother” Dickey, the caretaker, supporter and trustee of Handy Chapel. The chapel, the first black church in Grand Junction, has been in her family since it was built by her great-grandfather in 1892.

“Since they built this church, there's been a member of my family going here," Dickey told The Denver Post in a 2011 article. "And it didn't matter what race you were, if you needed help, we tried." Since its construction, the chapel has welcomed visitors of all races and served as a warm, safe place for homeless families to stay. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

According to Colorado Preservation Inc., Handy Chapel “was built on land deeded to the ‘black citizens of Grand Junction’ in 1883. The intervening nine years were required to undertake a campaign to raise the $962.50 necessary to construct the church building, a testament to the scarcity of funds available but also to the tenacity of a small group of African-Americans in 19th-century Colorado who dreamed of having their own place of worship.”

The day’s events also include a keynote address by CMU President Tim Foster.

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