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Students, faculty, staff and alumni represent SDSU in Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. Students, faculty, staff and alumni represent SDSU in Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade.

SDSU Delegation Participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Parade

The 39th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade is both an SDSU and city tradition, during which the general public is invited to participate.
By SDSU News Team

Hundreds of San Diego State University students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members will gather to march in the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. This year’s participation is projected to be well over 400 people, adding more excitement to this important SDSU tradition. 

The 39th annual parade kicks off at 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, on Harbor Drive in San Diego’s Embarcadero. The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, which includes floats, bands, drill teams, and community and social groups, will be held Monday this year instead of Sunday. Event details are available online.

The SDSU contingent will be led by SDSU President Adela de la Torre, Provost and Senior Vice President Joseph Johnson Jr. and Vice President for Student Affairs Christy Samarkos. The group will travel the parade route together to commemorate King’s contributions to civil rights for all Americans and demonstrate the SDSU community’s commitment to continuing King’s legacy.

“Marching together to honor the life of Dr. King is always an inspiring way to open the new semester,” Samarkos said. “Through our participation each year we hope to show the San Diego community that SDSU is committed to carrying on Dr. King’s legacy of justice, compassion, leadership and service.”

King visited San Diego State on May 29, 1964, and delivered a speech to a near-capacity crowd at the Open Air Theatre. He advocated an end of segregation and a “world one in terms of brotherhood and peace” and urged Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. When that bill passed and became law, it ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. 

A plaque dedicated in 2014 at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre commemorates King’s visit to SDSU. 

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, begun in 1980, is coordinated by the Zeta Sigma Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Alpha Phi Alpha, founded in 1906, is the oldest African American fraternity and included Dr. King as a member.