Seattle youth unite for justice

The third weekend in January, come rain or snow, Seattle Parks youth come together to learn, reflect and follow in the footsteps of one the most influential civil rights leaders of our time.

“We cannot walk alone,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. announced in August 1963.  “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

On Saturday, Jan. 17, Seattle teens will gather at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park at 11 a.m. for their annual march. The teens will hold a moment of silence and put flowers into the fountain for youth we have lost to violence, before making their way to Rainier Community Center via Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Rainier Avenue S.

“The march is an event for our youth, but we welcome everybody,” Seattle Parks Recreation Specialist Cindy Sandino-Chang said. “It’s wonderful when people join us on the street, and we feel the community rally behind us. People honk at us from their cars and it gets the teens excited.”

Sandino-Chang is on the event’s planning committee and has been working to organize the event with other Recreation leaders and teens since October.

Teen Deiosha Sparks is on the committee. She said she was eager to be part of the conversation. “I want to hear what other voices are saying on the issue of civil rights,” she said.

Once the teens reach the Rainier Community Center, they will be asked to participate in three workshops. The first workshop will include a gallery of civil rights activists and victims, and teens will have a chance to write letters to the families of teens and police officers who passed away this year across the country. The second workshop will be a dialogue with Seattle Police Department officers and the third workshop will send the teens through five “Tunnels of Oppression.”

Five teen groups are building tunnels to represent the oppression of marginalized groups: the poor, people with mental illnesses, people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, victims of domestic violence and victims of racial discrimination.

“The tunnels are a unique way for someone to get a glimpse into what these situations might feel like,” Sandino-Chang said.

After the workshops, participants will join together for a community dinner and reflect on the day’s events.

For more information about the “Seattle Youth Unite for Justice! Restore the Dream!” event, visit the Seattle Parks teen webpage, or call Cindy Sandino-Chang at 206-551-7316.