“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday is Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday dedicated to the memory of the man who, more than any 20th century figure, stood for the communal realization of justice and equality in our society and for pursuing non-violent means of changing laws as well as hearts and minds.
We form our views when we are young, and while opinions or attitudes can change over time, it is heartening to see eight-year-olds who understand that they have a place as an individual and a broader role as a part of society.
On page A1 of this edition we profile the words and ideas of third-graders in our community about MLK. The aim of their studies in the past week, like those of many schools, was to get the kids thinking about how King’s work and life might be reflected in their own.
“We wanted to find out why it is we have this holiday, that it’s more than just a day off from school. and we talked about the character of Dr. King,” said teacher Sandi Abramson.
This is what students in Abramson’s class had to say about Dr. King, his work, and his dream and their own:
Meisha Stevens said, “Martin Luther King Jr. helped us stop black and white only rules and he led a march and he started in Alabama and he got in prison. When they were marching they were marching to the bridge and the police beat them up and stuff.”
Isabella Maciel said, “Dr. King tried to change the laws that white and black couldn’t be together, because it’s good that we are not in separate schools. Her dream is “Giving food to the poor people because if they didn’t have food they would die.”
Abramson noted that, “We have been talking about Dr. King’s dream, and dreams that would be bigger than themselves, to be looking beyond ourselves.”
Listen to Brandon Moses’s dream: “It’s to be a person who has this flying video game place and it’s not only for me but at certain days I push a button and it turns into a restaurant and I let homeless people eat for free, and I push it again and it turns into an animal shelter.”
Colby Hughes said, “I would just like to prevent bad diseases such as asthma and cancer and everything.”
Hailey Magana: “To help stop bullying.”
Alex Chairez: “The people who picked up garbage, the black people got a little bit of money and the white people got more money so the black people said we’re not picking up garbage if we don’t get the same amount as white people.”
Yaritza Angel: “Because when he heard Rosa Parks was arrested because she didn’t want to give up her spot she got arrested and I think that made Dr. King kind of mad and he wanted to change the rules. He got a lot of votes for changing the rules, blacks and whites they wanted the rules to change.”
Grace Willis: “My dream is to make wigs for people who have cancer, so people if they have cancer and they can feel normal ... it will help them feel happy.”
Zachary Perryman: “I want to help the animal shelter and find all the dogs.”
Maria Casteneda: “I heard he was only 39 years old when he died. If it wasn’t for him we would all be separate, I wouldn’t be able to meet my friends and we wouldn’t be with our great teacher.”
Meisha Stevens: “My dream is to help homeless people, to give them a nice blanket or something.”