Washington, DC – The UDC Men's and Women's Cross Country and Track teams gathered this weekend for a special visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Joining over ten thousand people at the grand opening for the MLK Memorial, Head Coach Alton Mckenzie was able to experience this momentous occasion with his teams and expose the students to an important historical event that has shaped America's fabric for the last half-century.
Staying through the entirety of the event, the students listened to speeches from Reverend Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Dan Rather, among others. They also heard from Christine King Farris, the eldest and only living sibling of Martin Luther King Jr., and Martin Luther King III, his son. The students heard renditions of gospel hymns from musical legends Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder as well. President Obama also spoke of the significance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights movement and reiterated the importance of erecting a memorial in his honor.
Furthermore, Coach Mckenzie was able to reflect on what the MLK Memorial stands for and he conveyed this message to his team.
"The dedication was very special not only for what it stands for, but for what it offers as a teaching moment for our students of what can come from a life of dreaming big," said Coach Mckenzie. "Years in the future we will all have the collective bond that we were in that moment as a family…the UDC cross country and track family."
Having attended the Million Man March at the Mall in 1995, Coach Mckenzie felt great pride in bringing his teams to the grand opening of the MLK Memorial sixteen years later. It was an opportunity for the teams to grasp the magnitude of what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for. Sharing the experience with over ten thousand people from across the nation, this experience helped the students understand what Martin Luther King Jr. has meant to this country and how the influence of his legacy will impact future generations.
Attending this historical event as a group also helped the Firebirds come together as a unit as the Men's and Women's Cross Country teams face their toughest challenge of the season next Sunday, October 23rd. As the Firebirds return to action, they will travel to Brookville, NY next weekend to compete in the East Coast Conference Championships.