Permian Basin honors Martin Luther King Jr. with unity and service
What happened in Hobbs during the weekend of Jan. 14-16, 2023 is exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had in mind, said Joe Cotton, president of the city’s NAACP Chapter.
“Imagine if we did this all year,” he said.
On Saturday, Jan. 14, a diverse coalition of community members gathered at Your Safe Space on E. Humble Street in Hobbs to distribute 500 hot meals and 250 food boxes to neighbors in need.
Among those joining the effort were Hobbs Schools Superintendent TJ Parks, Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb, commissioners and employees from the city and county, New Mexico Junior College President Dr. Derek Moore, and representatives of local nonprofits and businesses, including a few dozen employees from Chevron, a main sponsor of the third annual distribution.
“People brought their kids to teach them about serving the community.”
Young children were among those helping distribute items to cars, said Beverly Allen, public and government affairs advisor for Chevron.
“People brought their kids to teach them about serving the community,” Allen said.
Cotton’s 15-year-old daughter helps out every year.
“These kids will remember doing this as they grow older,” he said, adding that they’re being inspired to carry the legacy of service into the future.
After volunteers served the last of a long line of cars, they took their distribution on the road, delivering meals to shut-in families, a domestic violence shelter and apartment complexes with people in need.
The following day, the 15th, unity was achieved again when all local black churches in Hobbs joined together under one roof – Pleasant Green Baptist Church — for a service in memory of Dr. King. And then on the 16th, which was MLK Day, the community came together yet again, young and old and people of all backgrounds, for an annual march ending at Booker T. Washington School, where Dr. Moore delivered a rousing speech.
“When I say he was our speaker, he brought it,” Cotton said. “He brought a clear, positive message that resonated with everyone.”
The spirit of MLK wasn’t only felt in Hobbs. Every year on the third Monday of January, people throughout the Permian Basin gather to remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s call on us to give our time to improve our communities.
Over in Culberson County, volunteers from Chevron helped renovate the Van Horn Community Shelter for the homeless, adding a fresh coat of paint and new doors. Meanwhile, freedom marches held in Odessa and Carlsbad helped fundraise for student scholarships.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway lauded the “great participation” throughout a weekend of MLK Jr. celebrations, which included a banquet Friday, a Sunday service at First Baptist Church Friday featuring the MLK Community Choir, and a Kuumba Festival.
“So many different individuals, groups and sponsors made this year’s event possible,” the mayor said.
For Cotton, what happens in the Permian Basin on the third Monday of every year is exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed about.
“When you have everyone in the community getting involved, from neighbors young and old to organizations like United Way, the NAACP, Your Safe Space, and companies like Chevron and Devon Energy, all joining in on a shared purpose, it sends a clear message that we can as a people put our differences aside, and we can serve,” Cotton said.