As they marched around the block on a hot Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School students locked arms and flashed broad smiles.
When a teacher leading the children shouted “M-L-K” on a bullhorn, the students shouted “Lions” at the tops of their lungs.
The man for whom the school was named would have been proud.
“I like it because he was the one who helped us with freedom,” said third-grader Mykal Ogans, 8.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, about 400 prekindergarten through fifth-grade students watched a video of the speech and then reenacted the march for equality.
“We want our kids to realize what it represents,” Principal Ethel Grubbs said. “We want them to know that they all go to the same school because somebody stepped forward and said we were all equal.”
King delivered the speech to an estimated 250,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963. He called for an end to racism in the United States.
Andrew James, 56, is a school volunteer who helped direct children around the neighborhood. He was 6 years old when King made the speech.
“I hope they understand the significance of it,” he said. “We’re where we are today because of the March on Washington.”
Tyrerl Leathers, 8, walked alongside his third-grade classmates, beads of sweat rolling down his forehead.
He said he was happy to march in King’s name, “because he made people come together.”
As the children marched by, Ricky Lucas, 53, stood in his front yard overcome with pride.
“‘I Have a Dream’ is very important,” he said. “Look at all the smiles on their faces. They’re learning. When they look at each other they see people, not colors, and that’s good.”