[INTERVIEW] Meet Colorado Springs’ Newly Elected Mayor Yemi Mabolade
Last weekend on August 19th, a special community event was held for the 78th anniversary of the Korean Independence Day at Colorado Springs. Hosted by the Southern Colorado Korean Association(Chairwoman Elizabeth Kim), the venue for the event was at the Alta Living(2886 Circle Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80906). Many Korean and American residents and numerous community leaders participated in this event in order to celebrate and commemorate Korea’s one of the biggest national holidays.
The Independence Day ceremony began at 11am with an announcement by General Secretary Hee-jin Lee and there was an opening prayer by pastor Gwang-gyu Park from the Korean Baptist Church. After the national rituals and the pledge of flag of both Republic of Korea and the United States of America, participants sang the liberation day song together. Three cheers of ‘Mansae(means Hurray in Korean)’ rang out throughout the venue. It was truly a moment to reflect on the meaning of Korea’s Independence Day, one of the most historical moments that long-lives in every participant’s heart.
Chairwoman Elizabeth Kim of Southern Colorado Korean Association read out a congratulatory speech, and Colorado Spring’s commissioner as well as Michael Thomason from the Korean War Veterans Association delivered congratulatory speeches. Two brave Korean War veterans Moon-seop Jung(96 years old) and Jae-hoon Shim(92 years old) also made a presence in this event and received a round of applause by other participants for their service.
Performers who performed traditional Korean instruments and dances.(Photo by Hyunjin Lee)
For this event, Colorado Springs’ newly elected Mayor Yemi Mobolade made a special visit as well. During his congratulatory speech, he stated “I moved to this country 27 years ago. It’s been a joy to be in this country and to be in this city. The Korean community is a significant part of Colorado Springs. Thank you for bringing richness and diversity of your culture to this great city. Here today, I celebrate freedom of Korea and my vision for Colorado Springs is that we are an economically prosperous, culturally rich, inclusive and safe city. Congratulations and thank you for having me.” Many people responded with a round of applause and excitement.
As the event was coming to an end, Xion Home Care(CEO Myung-sook Kim) prepared delicious meal for roughly around 200 people who participated in the event and everyone seemed to enjoy the meal while having a robust conversation.
While people enjoyed their meals, several special stages were held which presented Korea’s traditional instruments and dances. Hae-in Kang(11th grade, Grandview High School) played violin and a Korean traditional instrument ‘Haegeum’ and Soo-ah Lee(10th grade, Balmer Christian High School) also performed a beautiful Korean traditional instrument ‘Gayageum.’ Denver’s Pungmul Nori team also performed a special stage which presented Korean traditional sounds and dances. Min-hee Jang performed a Korean traditional dance called ‘Taepyeongmu,’ which was historically meant to pray for the prosperity of the Korean royal family and the peaceful era of the country. Her dance moves definitely showed off the beauty of traditional Korean dance, drawing admiration from many people.
Last but not least, the Taekwondo performance by the students of the ‘Academy of Life and Leadership Taekwondo’ was presented and everyone enjoyed the dynamic Taewondo performance.
While the Korean traditional performances were being held, Colorado Times had a special interview with Colorado Springs’ newly elected mayor Yemi Mobolade, who shared his personal stories as well as a blueprint for his upcoming term in the office.
[Colorado Times] Thank you Mayor, for attending the significant Gwangbokjeol event – which holds a great importance to our Korean community. We are proud to have approximately 12,000 Korean-Americans residing in the Colorado Springs area. How do you plan to foster a closer collaboration with the Korean community in Colorado Springs?
[Mayor Mabolade] I’m here today to show my passion to engage in different cultures and celebrate our city’s diversity. In Colorado Springs, we’re very proud of the Korean community. Actually it is the largest Asian population in Colorado Springs. As a mayor, it is my intent that we can keep our collaboration by showing up at these types of cultural events. This mayor is a business leader, I have two businesses in the city. It is my intent to bring those experiences into the mayor’s office to promote and support all businesses. Moreover, I’m an immigrant. I came here approximately 27 years ago. My country of origin is Nigeria so I understand what it feels like to belong to a different country and different culture, trying to make it here. Most importantly, other people voted for me and supported me so I plan to support others.
[Colorado Times] How do you intend to strengthen communication and engagement with the Korean community?
[Mayor Mabolade] My vision for the city of Colorado Springs is to become an inclusive, culturally rich, economically prosperous and safe and vibrant city. In terms of inclusivity, it means to appreciate and celebrate our diverse cultures. I would like to establish the mayor’s office of community affairs. One of the goals is to engage in cultural affairs of different ethnicities. I would like to ensure that the mayor’s office is engaging in many cultural affairs as much as possible. Thank you so much for having me here today and congratulations on Korea’s 78th anniversary of Independence Day.