Secretary Duncan Commemorates 46th Anniversary of March on Washington, Helps Launch "Kids for King"

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Secretary Duncan Commemorates 46th Anniversary of March on Washington, Helps Launch "Kids for King"

Challenge to Country's Youth to Submit Essay, Artwork, Video about Dr. King and How to Create a Better America

August 25, 2009

The following was released today by The Travelers Companies Inc.***

(Washington, D.C., August 25, 2009) – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. today commemorated the 46th anniversary of the March on Washington and launched the Kids for King Education Initiative during a live event on the National Mall. Earlier this year, The Travelers Companies, Inc. announced a $1.25 million donation to the Memorial Foundation to support the building of the Memorial and to spearhead the Memorial Foundation’s Kids for King Education Initiative.

In addition to Secretary Duncan, the August 25th speaking line-up included: Harry E. Johnson, Sr., President and CEO, Memorial Foundation; Brian W. MacLean, President and COO, Travelers; Byron V. Garrett, CEO, The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA); Dennis Van Roekel, President, the National Education Association (NEA); and Kym Hampton, WNBA Legend. Sam Ford ABC 7 / WJLA-TV news journalist served as the Master of Ceremonies.

“We must never forget the progress that Dr. King inspired in civil rights and social justice, and we must recognize how much work is still ahead of us,” said Duncan. “With high school drop-out rates unacceptably high and college completion rates far too low, education is clearly the civil rights issue of this generation. Every child and adult deserves a quality education. This is the only lasting way to fuel our economic recovery and end stubborn cycles of poverty and social failure.”

The March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech occurred 46 years ago this Friday – August 28, 1963.

As part of the 46th anniversary celebration, the Memorial Foundation is pleased to announce the Kids for King initiative, which will inspire youth from grades 3-12 to write an essay, create a piece of art, or produce a short video about the lasting legacy of Dr. King and his ideals of democracy, justice, hope, and love. The program also contains a lesson plan for teachers and parents to educate the youth about Dr. King. Three lesson plans have been developed, including plans for 3-5 grades, 6-8 grades, and 9-12 grades. The PTA, the NEA, YRC Worldwide, Inc., and The LEAGUE will also support the Kids for King initiative.

The year-long program will culminate in Fall 2010, when nine students will win a trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in a live press event on the National Mall. Complimentary meals, travel, and hotel accommodations will be provided for each student and a parent/chaperone. Each Kids for King Education Initiative entrant will receive a blue Build the Dream wristband. To learn more about the program visit

“Travelers is proud to sponsor the Kids for King Education Initiative,” said Brian W. MacLean, President and COO, Travelers. “As a company, we are committed to investing in education and we believe in the importance of teaching Dr. King’s vision. Kids for King is an excellent mechanism for both teachers and parents to educate today’s youth about Dr. King and his ideals.”

In addition to collaborating with the Memorial Foundation on the development of the Kids for King curriculum, Travelers will encourage public schools in cities where the company has significant operations to participate in the initiative. Travelers employees will also serve on the judging panel that selects the national finalists.

In addition to fulfilling its $1 million pledge to financially support the construction of the Memorial, the NEA will distribute the Kids for King curriculum to its members through online curriculum offerings, and during Black History month and beyond. The NEA will also ask teachers to encourage their students to participate in the art, essay, and video contest, and to use Kids for King in their classrooms as a means of educating this generation on the legacy and the promises of Dr. King.

The PTA will encourage schools to use the Kids for King curriculum and engage students in learning about Dr. King through its web site, email newsletters and other communication activities.

The LEAGUE will support Kids for King by providing resources about the initiative in its King Day Service Project Toolkit which is available to all LEAGUE Service Coaches nationwide. Kids for King will further help LEAGUE Service Coaches raise their students’ knowledge and awareness of Dr. King; not only honoring his legacy but also building social capital and empowering students to practice acts of kindness and advocacy.

YRC Worldwide, Inc. a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest transportation service providers in the world, will promote Kids for King on 40 foot trailers that will be driven around the country.

“We challenge every teacher, parent, and youth leader to make Dr. King’s legacy relevant to this generation and to explain the importance of building a lasting memorial to honor this legacy. I call on the youth of America to express your ideas about Dr. King by sharing an essay, a piece of art work, or a video about why Dr. King is important to you,” said Harry Johnson, Sr., President and CEO, Memorial Foundation.

The Memorial Foundation has raised $106 million out of the needed $120 million to build the Memorial. Travelers joins the following major donors to the Memorial: General Motors, Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, NBA/WNBA, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Walt Disney Company Foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Motor Fund, Toyota, AARP, AFLAC, Boeing, Inc., BP America, Inc., CIGNA, Credit Unions of the United States, DuPont, ExxonMobil Foundation, Fannie Mae Corporation, FedEx Corporation, GE, Ann and Joel Horowitz Family Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Sheila C. Johnson-Newman, Lehman Brothers, George Lucas, MacFarlane Partners, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, McDonald’s Corporation, MetLife Foundation, National Association of Realtors (NAR), National Education Association (NEA), Nationwide Foundation, PepsiCo Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Pfizer Foundation, Prudential Financial, Inc., Shell Oil Company, State Farm Insurance, Verizon Foundation, Viacom, Wal-Mart and Morehouse College, among others.

About the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. A Memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be built on the National Mall, situated adjacent to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and in a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Congress passed Joint Resolutions in 1996 authorizing Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to establish a Memorial honoring Dr. King to be built in Washington, D.C. The ceremonial groundbreaking took place on November 13, 2006, and the Memorial will be completed in 2011. McKissack & McKissack / Turner Construction Company/ Gilford Corporation / Tompkins Builders, Inc. Joint Venture will serve as the Design-Build Team. McKissack & McKissack is the oldest minority-owned architectural firm in the United States. For more information or to make a donation, please visit

About Travelers
Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business...The company provides support for charitable organizations in the community through the Travelers Foundation and with corporate funding and in-kind services. The company’s community giving is focused on education, community development and the arts. Travelers employees are consistently active in community initiatives and perform thousands of hours in volunteer time each year. For more information, visit