Utah Jazz and human rights commission bring students together to focus on MLK

Jan 16, 2023, 7:13 PM | Updated: Jan 17, 2023, 11:18 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz celebrated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Monday by hosting an educational workshop and basketball clinic for 50 middle school students.

Students from across the state had a chance to make new friends and solve problems together. They also had a chance to practice Dr. King’s teachings.

The Jazz teamed up with the Utah Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission to bring seventh, eighth and ninth graders together from across the state. The students were energized and focused on Dr. King’s teachings and getting to know each other better.

“It’s about bringing kids together to learn more about the principles of nonviolence,” Serenity Thompson, one of the participants said.

Students from different backgrounds, working together on coding problems focused on Martin Luther King‘s teachings.

“If we love each other and we’re re happy with each other that everything would be better, not everything would be solved. We would have a more loving place for the community,” she said. 

Eddy Thompson, a member of the Utah Martin Luther King Junior Human Rights Commission, said “if we can put a problem in front of some youth, and have them figure it out, working together, uniting, talking to each other, understanding that we’re not that different. We all have the same core beliefs.”

The students also got a chance to step out on the court with some of the Junior Jazz coaches in an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance.

“Dr. King talked about this idea of the beloved community,” said Gov. Spencer Cox, who addressed the students. “I think that that’s what we’re all striving for: a community where we work together despite our differences and even see how our differences make us stronger.”

The governor and First Lady Abby Cox talked with the students about the healing power of love, especially as Dr. King advised to love our enemies.

“I think it’s a message that’s just as important today as we see the divisiveness taking place in our country. We need to love our enemies a little bit more,” Governor Cox said. 

The students are optimistic that love, kindness and acceptance of each other can help lead us to a community in which our differences make us stronger.

“I think we should be more honest and kind to each other because you don’t really know what’s going on with their lives. You don’t really know their background or secret in their life,” said Coleman Price, one of the student participants.

He thinks we should be less judgmental of each other and more accepting of our differences.

“Just be the best you that you can be in your life because there’s only one chance at it,” Coleman said. 

The students said they’re striving for acceptance and opportunity, and believe that everyone should be able to find that in our community.

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Utah Jazz and human rights commission bring students together to focus on MLK