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Guestbook Archive: 2006

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Growing up poor on the south side, in the midst of chaos, and the corruption of inner-city violence is a true story of what I call "ghetto America." Although, I was never fond of gangs, guns and drive-bys, I was still poor and black and that was a disadvantage to anyone who wasn't. Dr. King, who is an eminent historical icon, a symbol of hope and struggle, has completely changed my life and the lives of so many African-Americans. Inspired by his heroic efforts and contributions to the march against racial discrimination and social injustice, I can honestly say that I have taken it upon myself to realize the "dream" and complete it. Now, a proud college student I am determined to make it my goal to make a difference in the real world. In fact, all of us can. Let us strive towards a better America. Broadening our perspectives on diversity awareness and multiculturalism helps to promote the uprising of social consciousness. Although, the struggle for fairness and equal opportunities are still a factor, that does not mean the "dream" is not alive. In the end the outcome will be victorious.

Victoria, Rhode Island College, Providence, R.I.

When I taught middle school, we did a unit on Black History called "We've Got the Blues." It took students on a historical tour via some wonderful music from the cotton fields to the rap and hip hop of today. The kids loved it (so did I!) Along the way they viewed several films about racial unrest and I remember them asking me if the pictures of lynching were "real" and very innocently asking me why would people want to do that to one another. Today I am a kindergarten teacher, I can think of no bigger honor than to introduce my five year olds to Martin Luther King Jr. In our diverse classroom, not only to we try to solve our problems peacefully, but we make it a practice to celebrate people who make a difference all year long.

Linda, St. Edward School, Seattle, Wash.

Tribute to Dr. King: Dear Martin

Dear Martin
We continue our journey to the mountain top
We weep at the sights we see
Sometimes the pain is great
Sometimes our joy over flows
Dear Martin
We oft grow weary
Dear Martin
We lose our way
But as the sun rises in the morning
As we savor the sweet taste of freedom
As we see the innocent and promising eyes of youth
We continue to march
Martin Please know we aren't there yet
We still judge by the color of our skin
The poor still beg around us
There is violence with foe and kin
But Martin We won't give up Our eyes are on the prize
Our lips have savored the sweet taste of freedom
Our hearts do yearn for a better future
Though you did not walk alone
Though others had their say
You gave your life for what you believed
We are compelled to remember your way
The world may call you Dr. King
But til the very end
We whisper and shout sweet Martin
For you have truly been a friend
Dear Martin
We continue the journey

Seledia, Washington, D.C.

As long as Conservatives keep getting elected (by us), the dream and the dreamers will keep being killed over and over again. Do we really mean when we wish "Peace on Earth" at Christmas time (just a few days ago)? Or do we mean "Peace on Earth for a selected few"? More likely those are just empty words because, in the darkest parts of our souls, we seem to really want "them" all at the back of the bus. At 62 I feel the dream will never materialize. Definitely not in my lifetime.

Fern, North Bay, Ontario

I believe that God led Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. come into this world for one reason and one reason only to let him see the better side of us in violence terms.

London, Arlington, Texas

I grew up in a small town with hardly any African Americans. It shocked me to read about what went on during Martin Luther King Jr.'s time. I haven't seen or heard any racism between the students at my school and I thank Martin Luther King Jr. for that.

Libby, Oskaloosa Middle School, Oskaloosa, Iowa

My name is Rita. Today is a special day for me. Today is the day that my daughter wanted to know more about Martin Luther King Jr. not because the school asked her to but because she wanted to hear his voice and his words. I take great pride in being her mother and also being a part of a nation's history that such a kind and true man willing to speak for those that were afraid to. Thank you.

Rita, Ketchikan, Alaska

I wish we didn't have to have one day out of the year set aside for Martin Luther King. I wish that everyone could just remember him and his legacy every day of the year instead of this forced remembrance we have every January. If Dr. King were here today, you know what I think he'd challenge us to do? Try. Not for one day out of the year, but for every day, just walk out your door and try to see things from the point of view of the guy that just screwed up your order at McDonald's. Try and see things through the eyes of the guy that scrubs your floors at work. Try and see the world the way those less fortunate than you do. Try and realize that all those random people you pass by on any given day that seem completely inconsequential to you and your life probably think the same thing about you. And really, just try to change the way you think about all that. Everyone seems to think that in order to honor Dr. King, there has to be some kind of new age revolution. Well look, you don't have to start your own civil rights movement, just go out there and do your best to be a good person and try to find a way to trust that the guy passing you by on the street is doing the same thing...for more than one day out of the year.

Paul, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Wash.

Regardless of our backgrounds and our races, Martin Luther was a wonderful example to follow and teach about for all. He truly inspired me, and instilled compassion and love for all people. He taught the blind to learn how to see, and the deaf to hear. He was a blessed man with only God's heart and teachings in mind. A world he preached of was a world our Lord wanted and still wants today. And Martin being a minister knew what he had to do, and in my opinion did the impossible at an impossible time, that has changed minds and generations to come. He did what Jesus preached about. To become fishers of men. And not to hold back, even when you knew you would be persecuted. He is a man worth exalting and remembering for his love, and his true wisdom. Thank you, Martin, for being strong and courageous. And for being an example for generations past, present and future.

Tara, California Virtual Academies, Sunland, Calif.

Taking some time to review through the past statements helps to embolden my perspective on the nature of race and civil relations in modern America. It is true that there has been some progress made throughout the years, owing a great deal to the continued effort and struggle of many. And the cost for them was quite high, as those who faced being ostracized, beatings, pain and brutal murder. It is with blood, sweat and suffering that our modern freedoms of a multi-racial America has come to be. But many today cry out to eliminate the markers of past times; a belief that they have served their purpose and that the dream has already been achieved. But we cannot do so, for to turn our backs will be to forget everything that has been done for us. People speak of eliminating such markers of the Civil Rights Era, but already our hearts and minds grow cold to tragic events of a more recent time. Of course, the events of Sept. 11th shattered our vain image of an America that was without peer; an infallible America that had nothing to fear from those willing to destroy. And after so many lost their lives, their families and communities shattered, we came together; from different lives, united as one. But know our hearts grow cold to these times, an event only five years old. If we do this now with an event like this, what's to say with other times of valiancy? We must never turn a blind eye to the past, or else our futures will truly be without light.

Joel, Parma, Ohio

Although racism is not gone, segregation is. Martin Luther King Jr. turned the key, to start the car of freedom. { I hope that freedom could afford a hybrid.}

Anthony, Viewlands Elementary, Seattle, Wash.

I think Martin Luther King Jr. was one of America's greatest because of what he did for us when he was alive, so today I'm just giving my honor and thanks for what he did for us. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. should be one of the world's greatest because without him and what he did we probably would still be semi-segregated. So this day, I give him thanks for what he did for my future.

Rob, Gibbs High School, St. Petersburg, Fla.

In Memory of Martin Luther King Jr.

From Alberta and Michael came forth a newborn
Just ahead of the Great Depression
A man who would taste the pains of Christ's thorn
As he followed his Lord's Accession
Son of a teacher, son of a minister
Well raised in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn
As a Southern black man saw much that was sinister
Which spurred him to reverently learn.
With a bachelor's from Morehouse, then a Doctor of Divinity
He soon chose Coretta to marry
He wanted a simple life, but the call from Infinity
Dealt a great burden to carry.
His studies continued, his preaching grew fervent,
Freedom and justice his cross
Nonviolence was the answer and King was its servant
And Love was the bridge across.
He tore down retaliation, revenge and aggression
He spread his good word world-wide over
Poor folks, popes and kings sought his expression
And Nobel gave him Peace Prize, moreover.
And like Gandhi (his hero), his enemies assail
Jail and beat him but still Martin fought
For American freedom for all peoples full-scale
He directed this great juggernaut.
But on April the fourth, nineteen sixty-eight, the blackest of history days,
This King was struck down, by a force yet unknown.
But as history judges and measures - His praise
Is raised
His light ablaze
And his name and spirit enthroned.

Elliott, Western Kentucky University, Kettle, Ky.

He's in our schools through history and social studies text books and in our cities through street signs and byways. And until recently, I may have simply figured that I had learned all there was to learn. But I've realized lately that I, along with most of our society, really don't seem to understand what his mission was about at all. Somewhere along the way, I believe the true purpose of his mission and struggle was lost. And now, we are left with a world void of idealists, dreamers and true, inspiring leaders. They say the dream died in 1968 when MLK and RFK were lost. And in some sense, I agree. I look back at my short life and wonder who among the prominent figures in that time span could be considered great? Since his death, has anyone picked up where Dr. King was forced to leave off? No. I contend with certainty that there has not yet been a man or woman with the honest and true conviction to change our world not for the betterment of a particular race, religion or political party, but for the sake of HUMAN KIND as a whole. So the next time I drive down the highway and see the exit for Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Boulevard or Street, I'll realize that it is a road unfinished, not yet paved and engineered to match it's original blueprint. His streets can only be called complete when the dead-end stops in the heart of suburbia, passing the rural farms of America, through the parking garage of the great corporations and indeed into the "White House" itself.

Bryan, Seattle, Wash.

As an associate principal in a predominately white suburban high school, I do not consider myself a Black Associate Principal. I am an administrator who happens to be black. I firmly believe that the struggle and ultimate sacrifice of Dr. King was instrumental in helping me and countless others drop the labels. If I told you I am successful today because of Dr. King, that would not entirely be true. My mom and dad instilled in me the values of earning an education to give myself better options for experiencing success. I'm smart enough to know the options I'm now afforded are available because of the groundwork provided by Dr. King. My dad told me I would have opportunities that he did not have. I acknowledge this is due to what Dr. King endured in the 1960's. Whether or not we take advantage of the opportunities is entirely up to us. Some may think we should no longer celebrate Dr. King's birthday. Really? We don't have to look farther than the last generation to see the vast differences one man has forged. Clearly, Dr. King's impact on race relations should be praised and celebrated from now until the end of time. If Dr. King was alive today, he would be proud of where we are, but more proud of those who have taken advantage of his lifelong commitment. However, he would also be actively involve in correcting injustices and perfecting his dream, because unfortunately, we still are not there yet.

Lloyd, Redmond, Wash.

Martin Luther King's impact on race relations was unparalleled in history. His impact on violence, like that of Gandhi and Jesus of Nazereth was a failure. Broadcast television is overwhelmed by the people's choice of films starring Stalone, Shwartzenager, Diesel, Norris and the like who give a quick nod to the virtue of non-violence and quickly proceed to solve the predicament at hand with as much violence as they can muster. "Law and Order" fulfills the popular philosophy that, at some point, civil rights and prohibitions against police brutality, must be set aside in order to achieve justice. "NCIS" characters quietly close the door with a wink to allow a torturer to get the answers they must have to save the day. Then life imitates art and we go forth to remedy our personal outrages with the casual death of whoever dares to cut us off in traffic. We glance down at our clothes and up at our electronic gadgetry and pretend to our selves that we have come a long way, but we are really very little evolved from our ancestors of a few thousand years ago who lived in caves and brutalized each other for everything from meat to mates.

Harold, Everett, Wash.

When my Godchild was born on January 15 I decided that I would do something meaningful on that day every year in honor of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. As a music teacher of a middle school years ago, and currently at an elementary school, I wrote and produce a play every year about Dr. King and this important moment in history, and the courageous people who persevered for justice in the face of hate and injustice and violence. This year, as I look at my students preparing to perform this play, I look at how they have taken ownership of it, of the history, and how they grasp the meaning of it in their own lives, and I know my work, and Dr. King's work was not in vain. I also see how my students relate to one another, White and Black and Mixed, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Muslims, middle class and economically struggling, and I marvel at how time and knowledge have changed things, at how much better things are today - not perfect but so much better. There is hope for future generations.

Judith, Edmonds

There is so much beauty and power on these pages. Every visitor will change, and every heart will open to become more of his vision.

Mercedes, Seattle, Wash.

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