UCSD honors MLK at parade

    Hundreds of UCSD students, staff and faculty joined the San Diego community at the 23rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade on Jan. 18.

    Lauren Rau
    Guardian

    The UCSD contingency donned blue T-shirts that read, “”Freedom Through Education.”” Students passed out yellow and blue balloons and pencils with the same slogan to the crowd between the boisterous cheers.

    The parade was a citywide event and took place downtown on Harbor Drive.

    According to Ann Brady, the event’s coordinator and the student organization adviser for the Student Organizations and Leadership Opportunities Office, this was the largest turnout UCSD has had in recent years.

    “”We had over 400 people come out to the parade today,”” Brady said. “”That’s our biggest turnout ever.””

    Brady said it was also an important event because it is the only event where the Preuss School, the Medical Center and the main campus come together for a collaborative event.

    Many groups were represented within the UCSD delegation. Among them were the Cross Cultural Center, S.O.L.O., the African-American Student Union, each of the six colleges and UCSD Healthcare workers.

    Stephanie Akpa, a Thurgood Marshall College sophomore, came to the parade with the AASU. However, for Akpa, the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade was also a matter of personal tradition.

    “”I’m from San Diego, so I’ve been to the parade every year since the eighth grade,”” Akpa said. “”And I’ve participated every year since the ninth grade. I remember seeing the UCSD group then, and it was good to see that they were so interested and taking pride in the community.””

    Edwina Welch, the director of the Cross Cultural Center, sees the parade as an opportunity for students from different organizations to get to know each other, perpetuating the same sort of cultural and ethnic mixing lauded by Martin Luther King, Jr.

    “”I think there are few opportunities when we all come together through our colleges or collectives where we all still get to retain our individual identities, but at the same time we’re still together as UCSD,”” Welch said. “”Students get to see each other here who otherwise might not. What other UCSD event gets this much cross-participation?””

    For Jessie Sims of the UCSD Pep Band, the most enjoyable part of parade was providing a little light-hearted music.

    “”I came to be with the band,”” Sims said. “”It’s a lot of fun to play for this crowd.””

    Duane Wright, a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which organizes the San Diego parade, said that participation was thriving at the city level as well.

    “”We have over 100 different organizations and about 2,000 people in the parade,”” Wright said. “”There are probably about 10,000 watching, too.””

    Wright’s fraternity also chooses a king and queen for the parade from local high schools. This year, Donald Addison and Shanon Belle held the honor and will be given scholarships for college.

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