By: Emma Kartalia
(Elementary Student at William Winchester Elementary, Winner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Contest)
So many years ago America knew a man.
A man who gave his life for freedom,
A man who had a dream.
A dream that I now share.
I try to do small things,
Small things that will help peace prevail.
I hear crying on the playground,
its exclusion, disruption.
It is disruption of the peace,
The peace some have tried to savor.
Like that man so long ago the girl down on the playground knows
how it is to be looked down upon.
I stood up for that girl.
I stood up for harmony.
I stood up for others,
Just as the man with a dream did so long ago.
To this day I remember that moment.
It gave me strength.
It gave me courage.
I will always remember the shared dream.
“I stood up for harmony,” is the phrase that continues to resonate in my mind days after McDaniel’s dinner celebration in honor of the Reverend King. Almost 57 years ago Dr. King envisioned an America that would one day realize its self evident truth-that all men regardless of race, creed, or color are equal. Today his legacy lives on.
As I sit in a room full of women and men, black, white, and shades in between, I cannot help but to think of how far WE, as a nation and as a world, have come since that day in late summer of 1963.
My mind goes back to Mahalia Jackson’s song “We Shall Overcome” which became the soundtrack of The Civil Rights Movement. She sings “…We are not afraid, everything’s gonna’ be alright…” For it was per Jackson’s request, that day at The Lincoln Memorial, that King share with the crowd ‘the dream’ that he’d had.
And on this day, February 1st, 1960, four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College performed their non-violent “sit-in” at The F.W. Woolworth Company’s all-white lunch counter.
There is no other place that I would rather be at this moment in time then celebrating the lives of those who fought to eliminate social injustice. To achieve the social harmony that Emma so eloquently speaks of: The Little Rock Nine, Mahalia Jackson, Thurgood Marshall, Mary McLeod Bethune, Linda Brown, Medgar Evers, Jackie Robinson, John F. Kennedy, and so many others that go unrecognized. Their contribution, no matter how big or how small, is living proof of a shared dream that in 2010 has come to fruition.