Schools across the territory celebrated the legacy of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with parades and marches on Jan. 16. The Ulla F. Muller Elementary School Bamboula Dancers and Drummers commemorated the day by staging the school’s Second Annual Walk for Freedom.
The walk kicked off at 7:30 a.m. in the school’s parking lot, with approximately 75 students, parents and Muller staff participating. Leniese Mercer, Muller reading intervention specialist and St. Thomas-St. John District 2016 Teacher of the Year finalist, heads up the Muller Bamboula Dancers and Drummers Club.
She led the walk by blowing a conch shell on the 45-minute trek to Lindbergh Bay beach, where the Freedom Walk concluded. At the beach, a moment of silence was held in remembrance of Dr. King, and students were treated to a healthy breakfast of fruits, sandwiches and local bush tea.
Mercer said the activity was meant to help students understand the significance of Dr. King’s work. "I want students to remember Dr. King Day and remember that Dr. King stood up and fought for the freedom of all," she said. "Even though Dr. King knew the consequences of speaking out and marching, he still stood up for the rights of all, especially black people."
Students were eager to talk about their experiences on the walk and the importance of MLK Day.
"The walk was really good because we got to express how we feel about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate his life," said 10-year-old fifth grader Maleah Davis.
J’Nique Frett, also 10 and in the fifth grade, said, "This was a great experience learning about Dr. Martin Luther King. I feel that we should do this every year because it was good exercise."
Fourth grader Shane Smith, 8, who is a Bamboula drummer, agreed that the experience was a good one, and he looks forward to doing it again next year.
"As long as I’m at the school and doing Bamboula dancing, I intend to have this walk," said Mercer.