Nearly 1,000 middle school students celebrated the legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Arizona State University West Campus on Jan. 22 as part of the school’s remembrance of the 1963 March on Washington, D.C.
Students and their teachers from the area took part in various interactive workshops teaching history lessons about the civil rights movement and took part in a ceremonial march.
The kids, carrying recently designed signs with unique phases pertaining to social justice, marched throughout the campus behind a drumline, cheering and soaking in a beautiful, sunny day.
“Everybody has been telling us we are the future, so we have to treat each other right,” said Carmen Johnson, a student carrying a sign reading #EndRacismNow.
At the conclusion of the march, several cultural leaders at ASU spoke to the students, including ASU faculty member Charles St. Clair, who recreated King’s “I have a dream” speech. He said the goal of the event was to have at least one young student leave and feel inspired to change the world around them.
Todd Sandrin, dean of New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, said he was encouraged not only by the enthusiasm of the students in creating and flaunting their signs, but their willingness to “do what is right.”
“Your posters are incredibly powerful and moving, and they show us your passion and your commitment to ending racism and making a big difference in your community and in the world,” Sandrin said.
“Our theme is we’re all connected, and I can see through your signs and faces,” added Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, vice president of Cultural Affairs at ASU West.
Also up at the podium was Oscar Hernandez, a master’s student in elementary education and grade school teacher at an Avondale school.
“It’s a day we have some time to remember even in this nation, there are some injustices that still need to be challenged,” Hernandez said.
After the speeches, Johnson still held her sign still high in the air as she walked to a waiting bus.
“If we can learn from this, the world can be better,” she said.