Spotlight on LaShawn Cooley, AmeriStar marcher in the MLK Marade 2012

LaShawn began looking into AmeriCorps programs because she wanted to eventually become a school counselor. Denver Public Schools-Urban Education Service Corps was the perfect program to start work with a diverse group of youth and gain experience working in the school system.

This opportunity has turned into a passion and she has taken on outside responsibilities such as donation drives as well as the wildly successful Martin Luther King Jr Book drive which yielded over 7700 books this year! When asked why she thought it was important for AmeriCorps members to participate in the book drive and MLK Marade she responded, “AmeriCorps is a Service Organization. The community should see us out, doing good works.”

She went on to describe the Marade as a representation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s vision for America. The amount of people present was inspiring but what really made the difference was the diversity of the crowd. There seemed to be no one missing from the table; every race, creed, and religion was present, smiling, and mingling. The march was not in regimen, there were clusters and gaps, people were running up ahead, hanging behind and everyone was watching out for the kids that were running in and out of parent’s shouting distance.

“I’m not sure the children knew the harsh history of why this Marade is so important,” LaShawn noted, “but they knew that they were there on their day off of school for MLK Day, so being a part of this march instills that value in their minds; of Martin Luther King Day being a Day On.” She went on to speak about this being Dr. King’s dream starting to come true, we haven’t achieved it yet, but we are evolving toward something good; something built on
the foundations of respect, friendship, and love.

Martin Luther King Jr’s fraternity, Alph Phi Alpha, is a perfect illustration of this. Marching in the crowd with their arms linked in remembrance to the brotherhood and righteousness that were the Civil Rights Marches of the early 1960’s. It was a powerful thing to witness for everyone there; the other AmeriCorps members, the store owners and pedestrians that lined the streets handing out coffee and playing the drums, and most importantly the families that brought their children out to be a part of a march that represents both Dr. King and America’s hope for their future.

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