Dozens of local elementary and high school students participated in a panel with local professionals to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
The Washington Wizards and PricewaterhouseCoopers presented their annual King holiday “We Are Dreamers” panel discussion on Monday, Jan. 16 at Verizon Center in Northwest.
Rookie Wizard guard Danuel House reflected on what King’s legacy meant to him.
“He impacted me and the people in my generation greatly,” he said. “He gave us a chance to have courage, stand up and speak our minds.”
WJLA-TV reporter Anna-Lysa Gayle, who was one of the panelists, said she couldn’t help but to be grateful to King.
“I don’t think I can listen to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and not get emotional,” she said. “I learn something new every time I listen to it. His message of non-violence is used today in activism.”
Montgomery County Sgt. Ruben Rosario said King’s convictions about America stood out as his most powerful trait.
“What I love about Dr. King is more than anyone he held this country to what it said it was,” he said. “When I think of him I think of courage and integrity. I’m honored to be here today to support the civil rights icon.”
In the second part of the event, students got the opportunity to receive advice for their future from the accomplished panelists.
Juda Stallman, an 11th-grader at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Northwest, said that King’s life inspires her to follow her dreams.
“I want to have my own real estate company one day, so I’m trying to go to PG County Community College and then hopefully transfer to the University of Maryland,” she said.
House expressed to Stallman and the other students how important mentors are to accomplishing their goals.
“I had quite a few mentors, especially playing basketball,” he said. “I had a mentor, John Lucas, a former NBA player who I could talk to whenever I needed. He had the same values as MLK, like integrity and honesty. Mentors help, and his mentorship to me paid off in the long run.”
Rosario addressed the direction of the country in light of recent police-related shootings causing great turmoil through out the nation.
“I spent several months pondering on if we have made progress or not, and I will say that if you’re just looking at the media you will think things are more bad than they are,” he said. “The civil rights movement was an amazing time and a lot of good things came out of it. I believe today things have gotten a lot better.
“He saw the promised land and knew we would get there,” Rosario said. “We’ve made tremendous improvement, but we still have a ways to walk.”