With headlines pouring out of the U.S. and turmoil in other parts of the world, the message of Martin Luther King Jr. is still very relevant for people in Pictou County says organizer of events in schools honouring the civil rights leader on Monday.
“It’s important that we give a message to our children that the world can be a better place by how we treat each other,” said Cora Reddick, African Nova Scotian student support worker, who helped organize events at A.G. Baillie Memorial Elementary School.
“We here at A.G. Baillie school are honouring him with stories song and conversation about Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream,” she said. “Our school has very much integrated the values of Martin Luther King into their daily practices by way of being peaceful kind and respectful to one another.”
To localize the message, she said they also share with students about civil rights activists who helped change Pictou County including Dr. Carrie Best and Viola Desmond.
“We’re trying to help these young people understand that no matter walks of life people come from, what race, what socioeconomic background that we have to treat with people with peace, with kindness and respect.”
She said the message is one that comes naturally to students.
“Children are more accepting of others,” she said. “They come as a blank slate.”
Dr. Carrie Best’s daughter, Berma Marshall came to speak with students at the school as part of the activities and also expressed concern about some of the news she’s heard lately, especially surrounding Donald Trump.
“Things have escalated to the point that people are becoming desensitized,” Marshall said. “It’s almost a step backward from the progress that’s been already made.”
That’s why she believes it’s important to talk with children.
“I taught school for 35 years and children have sometimes have a better insight into things than adults because their minds haven’t been bombarded with a lot of negativity,” she said. “Sometimes we tend to ignore children, but sometimes they give us the best advice.”
She personally has always found King an inspiration.
“This is the world where we have to get along together.”
About Martin Luther King Jr.
• Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.
• He was a Baptist minister and social activist, who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States for 13 years, beginning in the 1950s.
• He used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing and civil disobedience to achieve goals of ending the legal segregation of African-American people in the U.S., along with the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
• King was a spokesperson for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, started after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, and was also president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
• He is often remembered for his 1963 speech “I Have a Dream,” which spoke about his belief that all people are equal, regardless of colour or creed. The speech was delivered during the historic March on Washington that involved more than 200,000 people.
• In 1964 when he was 35 years old, King received the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person to be given the honour.
• He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.
• The third Monday of January is Martin Luther King Junior Day in the United States. He is the only non-president to have a national holiday dedicated in his honour.