As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and commemorate his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in our schools this month and next, let’s not miss the opportunity to educate students on his purpose and the meaning of his speech– Freedom, justice, and equality. Hearing recordings and seeing videos may simply not be enough for our younger students, who are very much out of touch with the reality that was segregation in the United States just decades ago. While we know that many students can recite phrases, if not paragraphs, from the speech, let’s ensure that they also get Dr. King’s gist of fairness and togetherness. Although the specific issues Dr. King sought to combat may not be as overt today, civil rights issues persist as civil liberties are still being denied every day in the United States. Facilitated discussions and guided reflections following readings and viewings of the speech could really help students process and make meaning of the words. Only then can they apply the message to contemporary civil rights issues and contribute to the comprehensive fulfillment of Dr. King’s notarial dream.
— Pierre Lucien, first year corps member of the ATT Team at South High School
Violence Only Begets More Violence
By: Crystal Mcdonald
A couple of weeks ago I was put in a situation in which I could have acted or rather reacted in a way that would have been typical of me, but I challenged my own nature and did something new. Now this was a hard task because I felt I was allowing myself to be disrespected and belittled, especially because the incident that occurred was among a group of peers. Initially I thought to myself, “whoa…Crys, you just let yourself be played and you know that everybody is thinking and saying the same thing.” I was mad and I wanted to go back and make it clear for everyone that that certainly was not the case. However, as I thought about the issue I began to ask the questions, “for what and who really cares?”
It was then that I reflected on my students in the high school. Everyone has an image and feel it is a necessity to protect it. I realized the internal struggle to say something or just let it go. I could relate to the pressure to prove to others just who you are, but in reality, who others think you are and the image you uphold are not the essential items that determine your character. It is not the things you say, but the absence of action that say a lot about who you are. That is not to say that saying nothing is always the correct path, but the thought behind your reasoning is what matters most. Thinking before I act was something I had to learn and am continually adapting; it is a skill I have become most proud of.
There are always consequences for every action and as in poker, you have to know when to fold and when to raise. It is this trait that I wish my students to understand and practice. It is not about what others think of you but what you think of yourself because however you feel is what you display and that is where character comes into play. If your image is merely a façade, others will notice your transparency and it will eventually fade away or become exposed. You see character is how you live life when no one is looking. In the words of Martin Luther King, “violence only begets violence” and in homage to my Southern roots, I end with a great adage I heard referenced daily; “There’s always more than one way to skin a cat.”