It’s quickly becoming a mid-January tradition for University of San Diego student, Shantell Steve, to have her voice heard and, just as important, for others to follow her lead.
That’s what the sophomore did for the second year in a row when approximately 350 USD undergraduate and graduate students, student-athletes, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni, friends and families participated in the 32nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Sunday afternoon in downtown San Diego.
“Honor the dream, Dr. Martin Luther King! USD! USD!” was the phrase that Steve blurted out at the front of the large, mobile USD pack. She was one of six campus members who held a banner throughout the parade march down Harbor Drive. She was one of many wearing the commemorative light blue t-shirt given to those who had registered online with USD’s Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID).
The shirt, designed by 2008 alumnus David Smith, who earned a visual arts degree, captures one moment of the passion that Dr. King exercised through his civil rights advocacy, sermons and delivering famous speeches as “I Have a Dream” and “I See the Promised Land.”
Steve provided her own special passion, mixing in another phrase, “For MLK, We Represent All Day!” that spread among the USD contingent. A simple chant of “Olé!” was also popular. People standing on both sides of the parade route clapped, smiled and joined in with the enthusiastic chants. The leadership exhibited by Steve, who is studying sociology and pre-med, served as a source of pride, inspiration and fun for all in attendance.
At last year’s parade, Steve said that King’s birthday (he would have been 83 in 2012) has always had special meaning for her.
“That’s the whole purpose,” Steve said last year. “I believe in what he did. If Dr. King can march, I can certainly march in a parade and represent him. If he can march for my freedom, then I can certainly march for him.”
Thanks to the work of many campus organizations, led by CID staff (pictured, top), many people, both on campus and in the San Diego community understand the importance of celebrating Dr. King and respect those who strive for peace and equality for all.
— Ryan T. Blystone