On January 21st, LAYC’s Housing, Education, and Wellness staff, AmeriCorps members, volunteers from the Human Rights Campaign, and community members commemorated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event, held at Rita Bright Family and Youth Center, included MLK-themed activities, service work, a panel discussion about the impact of and experiences during the civil rights era, a social justice round table, and more.

LAYC AmeriCorps members hosted over 60 local students and families. The event began with a panel discussion featuring Roland Roebuck and Belinda Shepherd, who shared their personal stories of living through the civil rights movement, their thoughts on civil rights and race, and reflections on history’s connection to today’s civil rights climate. The panel was followed by a social justice round table which sparked further dialogue and reflection.

There were plenty of inspiring activities for younger children as well. For elementary school students, AmeriCorps members read the book “My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King,” written by Dr. King’s son Martin Luther King III, and created MLK-themed art that celebrated diversity. Students from Powell Elementary School, Bancroft Elementary School, and Takoma Education Campus displayed MLK Day-themed art (pictured) for a walk-through art gallery. LAYC staff also played a video of the “I Have a Dream” speech and a film for children, provided meals, and held a raffle. Finally, youth from Cardozo Education Campus led event participants in a singalong.

At LAYC’s Drop-In Center, 22 community volunteers from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) helped LAYC staff commemorate the day (see photo). HRC volunteers performed service work by assembling furniture and organizing space used by DC youth who are facing homelessness. HRC also generously donated over $200 worth of emergency supplies, including hygiene products for homeless youth! Finally, LAYC’s Wellness staff provided free STI testing during the event.

On February 18th, LAYC’s Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers held their own MLK celebration at Buck Lodge Middle School. A total of 614 individuals participated in the inspiring event, which featured an AmeriCorps member skit, a keynote address by motivational speaker Brandon Clear, recognition of local community partners, nine dynamic performances from local school students and community groups, a rap by Principal Kenneth Nance, and eight workshops that included themes of community, love, kindness, and hope. 

We are so grateful to everyone who came out to support these inspirational days of service, celebration, and reflection, especially our AmeriCorps members, guest speakers, HRC volunteers, and middle school and high school students and staff.

LAYC’s 2019 MLK events were made possible by the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Serve DC, DC Department of Parks and Recreation, the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, United Way of the National Capital Area, and the Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism.


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