Welding Instructor is the Inspiration behind SDCE's MLK Parade Float Entry
Mike Bradbury, an instructor with SDCE’s Welding program, has played a key role in the development of the design of SDCE’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade for many years. In 2015, Mike had thought of utilizing a replica of the Edmund Pettis Bridge for the float, but there was not enough time to make that creative idea come to life, so instead the students in the welding classes created a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that was composed of words from the “I have a Dream” speech. The entry won First Place in the float division.
Mike still wanted to build the Edmund Pettus Bridge for 2016 float entry because it is one of the most powerful images of the civil rights movement. Time did not allow for the structure to be made from steel so he proposed the welding class build most of the bridge from wood.
The float included a large banner with a history of marches across the bridge in support of voting rights, the first on March 7, 1965, with 600 marchers led by Martin Luther King. That day came to be known as Bloody Sunday as marchers were being beaten and gassed. The result was that President Lyndon Johnson sent federal troops to protect the protesters and the Voting Rights Act passed in August of that same year.
Although the confrontation was over 50 years ago, the bridge is in the news recently because people still want the bridge name changed. Pettus was a Confederate brigadier general and Grand Dragon in the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. To bring focus to the name change, the name of the bridge changes from Edmund Pettus Bridge to the MLK Memorial Bridge by turning of a wheel.
Continuing Education was recognized this year for this historical reflection by receiving First Place in the Education division.