UCF Students' Voice Their Experiences
With a total 70+ enthusiastic student participants, UCF was well-represented at this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Downtown Orlando. With both decorated posters and wrapped candy in hand, the students marched the streets and greeted the excited community members. Students marched for peace and justice for our world and several students had awesome things to say about the significance of this experience to them.
First year accounting major Jasmine Samuels said, “It was important for me to participate in the MLK parade because Martin Luther King Jr. is the reason why I can attend a predominantly white university. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped me realize that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”
Alexus Blue, a senior majoring in health service administration, shared a similar sentiment: “'Participating in the MLK parade was a personal victory for myself and anyone whose skin is like mine because there really was a point in time where participating in activities alongside someone that looked different from you, was a crime. Being able to participate with UCF in the parade to show how we, as a country, are living out Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s lifelong work was an honor.”
Students had the opportunity to join in unity, marching for a cause that was bigger than themselves. All students who participated volunteered their time on an early Saturday morning to take part in a movement that represented a world of hope for individuals of all skin colors. Breon Clark, a first-year health science: pre-clinical major, had this to say about his experience, “The MLK Parade experience was one to remember; the depth of the community and the camaraderie shared by all who participated transformed Downtown Orlando into an almost home like atmosphere. I enjoyed walking around the city as well as overlooking historic sites and other parts of the town.”
Following the parade, the students took a tour of the historic Wells’ Built Museum. The building was originally constructed to serve as a hotel space for Black patrons who had no other place to stay. Notable clientele of the hotel include Ray Charles and BB King. Students enjoyed viewing the magnificent displays and learning about the history of Orlando at the height of the Wells’ Built hotel era. Years later, the hotel was transformed into a museum, where it currently stands, next door the past home of Dr. Wells.
Overall, the student participants enjoyed the experience of both the parade and the museum. It can be said with assurance that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be incredibly proud of the turnout of the young people who chose to walk for justice and peace for our world.