AHF Float in the 2018 Rose Parade® Presented by Honda: Winners of the Heather Heyer Foundation/AHF Youth Essay Contest Announced; Two Essayists to Ride on Float Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


LOS ANGELES–()–In conjunction with AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) entry in the 2018 Rose Parade® presented by Honda and its float honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the 50th anniversary of his death, AHF and The Heather Heyer Foundation are honored to announce winners of a youth essay contest—a recognition that includes the honor of riding on the AHF float for two of the five accomplished winning essayists and young leaders. Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, a counter protester who lost her life during violent white supremacy demonstrations in Charlottesville, VA will also ride on the float.

During the 2018 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death and in the wake of the Charlottesville, Virginia demonstrations last summer during which counter-protester Heather Heyer lost her life, AHF is dedicating its entry in the 129th Rose Parade® to ‘Keeping the Promise’ with its float honoring Dr. King and other passionate social justice advocates like Ms. Heyer, who stood up to hate and injustice at risk of their own lives.

The youth essay contest posed the question, “What are you doing to stand against hate in your community?” Three essay winners and two runners-up were selected—two of whom will now ride on the AHF float highlighting community heroes and honoring the courage and sacrifice of civil rights and social justice activists throughout history.

The Heather Heyer Foundation/AHF youth essay contest winners include:

  • Lilia Sweet ‘Sweet Lily’ King, a 17-year old from Tallahassee, FL, whose essay focused on her ‘Longest Table’ project to build community
  • Aleena Haidari, a 17-year old from Charlottesville, VA. Born in Pakistan, her essay focused on her Muslim heritage and discrimination she and her family has faced.
  • Kibiriti Majuto, a 19-year old from Charlottesville, VA. Born in Democratic Republic of Congo, his essay focused on his participation on the Board at the Charlottesville Center for Peace & Justice and on other civic engagements.

Ms. King and Mr. Majuto will ride on the AHF ‘Keeping the Promise’ MLK tribute float.

Essay contest runners-up include:

  • Amaya Wallace, a 16-year old from Charlottesville VA.
  • Brianna Parker, a 16-year old from Columbia, VA.

The Keep the Promise youth essay contest launched in October. The top three winners of the essay contest will receive $5,000 grants either for community projects or toward furthering their education and two of them will be flown to Los Angeles and have the singular opportunity to ride on the 2018 AHF Rose Parade float, representing the next generation of American activists and community leaders. The two runners-up will each receive $1,000 grants from the Heather Heyer Foundation.

Other advocates for social justice who will ride on the AHF float along with the two young essay contest winners and Ms. Bro include:

  • Alfred Wilson, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Heather Heyer Foundation and a close friend of Ms. Heyer,
  • Cynthia Davis, MPH, Chair of AHF’s Board of Directors and an AHF Board Member for 20 of AHF’s 30 years as well as an Assistant Professor and Program Director in the College of Medicine and College of Science and Health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Davis was instrumental in the development of the first dedicated mobile HIV testing project in Los Angeles County in 1991.
  • Reverend Kelvin Sauls, also an AHF Board member and Senior Pastor at Holman United Methodist Church in West Adams District of Los Angeles.


A press conference will take place in Charlottesville, VA on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 with Susan Bro, Alfred Wilson and some of the essay contest winners and runners-up prior to the float riders departure for Los Angeles to take pare in the Rose Parade®.



MEDIA AVAILABILITY—Youth Essayists to Ride on Rose Parade® MLK Tribute Float

with Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer

WHEN: Wednesday, December 27, 2017—all day, by arrangement

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer

Alfred Wilson, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Heather Heyer Foundation

And some of the Youth Essay contest winners

Virginia CONTACT:

Alfred Wilson, Co-founder and Executive Director, Heather Heyer Foundation, tel: 434-964-7617

“My daughter Heather stood bravely for unity and against hate and always believed in dialogue and discussion as the keys to peace,” said Susan Bro, mother of slain activist Heather Heyer and Co-founder of the Heather Heyer Foundation. “We are honored to continue Heather’s legacy by partnering with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and encouraging young people across the country to promote peace.”

Background on AHF’s 2018 Rose Parade® Float

The AHF float will recreate the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which King and other icons of the civil rights movement marched across in 1965 in what became known as ‘Bloody Sunday,’ when armed policemen attacked civil rights demonstrators with billy clubs and tear gas. Rising at the back of the float will be a rendering of Lei Yixin’s ‘Stone of Hope’ granite statue of MLK. AHF and Heather Heyer Foundation officials also believe that its “Keeping the Promise” theme dovetails quite effectively with this year’s official Tournament of Roses’ theme: “Making A Difference.”

About The Heather Heyer Foundation:

The Heather Heyer Foundation was founded in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, to honor the memory of Heather Heyer, who lost her life on August 12, 2017, when a car plowed into a crowd of counterdemonstrators who were protesting a white nationalist rally. The Foundation provides scholarships to individuals passionate about positive social change. For more information, visit www.heatherheyerfoundation.com.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over 843,000 individuals in 38 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter @aidshealthcare

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