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Our DPS Weekly: Walking, with Our Students, in Dr. King’s Footsteps

Jan. 24, 2020
Students and community march in Park Hill Marade
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Click the image above to watch a DPS Features video on the Park Hill Student Marade

Dear DPS Community,

It’s rare that we can give our students a chance to walk in history’s footsteps, but every year for the past six years, a group of our elementary schools team up to do that in a wonderful way. This past Tuesday, following on the heels of Denver’s cherished “Marade” celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was honored to be in the Park Hill neighborhood with more than 600 young students from Park Hill, Stedman, Smith and Hallett elementary schools. We marched from Turtle Park to the front steps of the historic Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church, to honor the life and leadership of Dr. King and to learn about the mark he made on our city, on our nation, and on our collective character.

This Sunday, Jan. 26, marks the 56th anniversary of Dr. King’s visit to Park Hill and a Sunday event at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church, where he spoke to thousands who crowded the streets outside the church before delivering a sermon to the Montview congregation.

There’s perhaps no one in our nation’s history who has moved us, challenged us, lifted us or inspired us more through the power of his words and strength of his convictions than Dr. King. His force and fortitude continue to guide and teach us.

“Following Martin Luther King’s dream is a very important thing to continue today, and there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Erika Neale, a Park Hill kindergarten teacher and founding organizer of the elementary school Marade. “Teaching our youngest learners about his legacy and bringing our neighborhood schools together is a powerful way to get them started as leaders who will continue Dr. King’s legacy.”

Students performed a rendition of “We Shall Overcome” before hearing from retired Judge Dianne Briscoe and District 8 Councilman Christopher Herndon about Dr. King’s positive impact and importance in peace and social justice.

“We have to remember that our youngest learners are our most impressionable learners,” Erika added. “If we can plant those seeds when they are young, then hopefully, they will flourish into a beautiful garden as they mature and go through school and through life.”

Standing among hundreds of our youngest learners, I was struck by how much Dr. King’s leadership has moved us ahead and helped us flourish … and by how much farther we have to go and grow.

Every child needs and deserves a clear path ahead to graduation and a great future. That’s a key part of Dr. King’s dream … and our dream. We all know we’re not there yet. There are too many obstacles in the way for too many students. Our commitment to equity is our commitment to clear the path of every child.

Dr. King has showed us the way. We must walk together with our children, supporting and guiding … and following in Dr. King’s footsteps.

Warm regards,