Galvanizing Tomorrow’s Civic Leaders: Denver’s MLK Marade

By: Russell Yohannan, Sociolegal and International Studies, Public Achievement

This year’s 35th Annual MLK Marade in Denver was an incredible experience. Being new to the Public Achievement (PA) team and the city of Denver in general, I did not know what to expect. After hearing horror stories of freezing temperatures and blizzards in Marades past, this year we were blessed to have what Denver is known for – beautiful weather! Starting at about 9am, the PA staff and students met up outside of East High School where we began our march. There were thousands of people from all walks of life that came to participate. It was a humbling and joyful experience to see how many people showed up to not only celebrate the incredible life of Martin Luther King Jr. but to have their voices heard in the pursuit of justice. The energy of the march was prideful of the strong community that has developed in Denver, but also hopeful for a future of true freedom and justice for all.

On our campus here at the University of Denver (DU), students tend to be disconnected from the community of Denver itself. Thanks to CCESL and PA efforts to facilitate transportation to and from DU, many DU and PA students were able to participate in a tradition that is quintessential to the Denver community. The MLK Marade allowed PA students to voice their opinions and display what changes they want to see both in Denver and the world. It was also wonderful to know that we were able to provide high school students a medium to be active participants in their community alongside DU students and faculty. Following the 5k walk down Colfax Avenue, the Marade culminated in Civic Center Park where many local politicians and event coordinators had the opportunity to speak and local performance artists were able to perform.

It is imperative that we practice our first amendment rights as often as we can and the MLK Marade allowed us to do just that. Not only were DU and PA students, staff, and faculty able to do so, but it was exciting to see high school students engage in their community and let their voices be heard as well. The MLK Marade is one of Denver’s best traditions and I look forward to participating in it again!

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