FARMINGTON — San Juan College and AmeriCorps are teaming up to host an event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month on Saturday.

Last year's event at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club drew almost 1,000 people, said organizers who are hoping for another successful run.

The event is a valuable opportunity for residents of Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield to learn about real African-American culture, said Angela Watkins, program coordinator at the Aztec Public Library.

She will be featured as the event's guest speaker.

"I'm speaking about diversity," Watkins said. "It promotes a healthy community."

Education on diversity is especially important in this area because it exposes children to cultures and traditions they would not otherwise encounter in the Four Corners Region, she said.

"We create our own prejudice," Watkins said. "We have to learn how to listen to our hearts because our hearts won't steer us wrong."

Watkins moved to the Four Corners region from Louisiana.

"I thought that (prejudice) would all go away, but there's still a lot of healing that needs to be done here," she said. "You can feel the glances."

In spite of encountering some prejudice, Watkins says reactions to her speeches and presentations have been extremely positive.

She incorporates items, including a whip, taken from the plantation where her ancestors were slaves and sharecroppers, into her presentations.

"Hatred is too big of a burden to carry," Watkins said. "You can't learn about culture through TV or computers.


This is something the community needs, breaking the stereotypes. (The children) retain this history. I feel it's my calling to educate them here before they leave."

Saturday's event will feature singing, poem reading, dancing and a four-course meal, free of cost and open to the public.

The event also has a charitable mission.

Monetary proceeds will benefit the Demetrius Garrett foundation and other local charities to be announced at the event, said Franklin Brimage, a local AmeriCorps volunteer helping to organize the event.

Garrett, 20 of Aztec, died Nov. 3 at a hospital in Denver. He was shot in the leg and chest while attending a St. Patrick's Day Party in 2012.

The family is having trouble paying for the funeral, Brimage said.

"It's been a challenge getting to know the community," he said. "This helps."