Guestbook Archive: 2004
My mother attended Garfield High School in the late '40s, until her parents moved to a different neighborhood after they saw an interracial couple holding hands. This fall, my daughter will attend Garfield with her friends and is proud to do so. I enjoy the diversity of the area and while I acknowledge that we still have a long way to go, we need to remember we have come a long way already.
I think that the music of this day tells much of how our young people are thinking as well as feeling. Youngsters are a lot more open than older individuals. I have never lived in the South, but I have come in contact with bitterness just because of skin color. I have a big problem with this because I have a white grandmother, an Indian grandfather, a Creole grandfather and an Afro/white grandmother. So, what does that make my parents as well as myself? I know that we are all children of God; therefore, we must all be beings of equality.
Viola, Detroit, Mich.
Kids today take everything for granted, and that's why they feel no hope for tomorrow. Parents don't talk enough to their children about the past, whether it's good or bad. For example, I was 8 years old when my father told me the story of his father, a child slave who became a Union army water boy and moved to Haughville, Indianapolis, to farm a large piece of land. My father was a Negro Baseball League player. Before he died he taught me two important lessons: Get your education, and give back to your community.
Rita, Indianapolis, Ind.
In my community, King Day is highly respected by the majority of African-Americans. I personally always take the day off and participate in some of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations as well as take the time to educate some of the younger people in that area. Since I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, where a lot of the current historical monuments remain, I am particularly sensitive to respect for the civil-rights struggle. I do recognize that many whites also contributed and some lost their lives stepping up to the plate against racism. I truly see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a modern-day Moses. I will forever salute him!
Gail, Birmingham, Ala.
I think every black person should view this site and then they will know why it is important to vote. This site alone will let them know the struggle our people had to go through to get where we are today. And we still have a long way to go.
Sherry, Hitchcock, Texas
Not many people care about this day where I go to school. They don't even talk about it. It angers me to know that no one will care.
Ginia, Mt. Blue Middle School, Farmington, Maine
Do young people understand what it is to struggle for what is right in a non-violent way? How can they when the leaders of this country insist on war to solve conflict?
Americans acknowledge the momentum of Martin Luther King's life, but they take little time to assess and adopt its meaning. According to one of his wisdoms, education is supposed to produce prejudicial-free people, but there is no room for that in the American system of education, and that is why we see some products of the American education system running around representing other cultures with caricatures, and the KKKs are not illiterates, and also, based on direct experience, some Americans (black and white) think their culture is superior without even thinking about the meaning of culture. What the system does best is produce productive members of the society.
Kudirat, Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, Ga.
Growing up, my sisters and I were sent to predominantly white schools, so we really never had any black friends or "friends that were like us." Learning about Martin Luther King Jr. in elementary school helped me a lot because I was always the outsider. By learning about him, I felt that I too could become someone powerful or special. Dr. King helped me shape the direction in my life also. I once read the speech "What is your life's blueprint?" and it convinced me never to drop out of school. I had been taught that I should always try to succeed no matter what my circumstances, and Dr. King proved that to be right. I also believe that many great African-American leaders and people of the past have died so that I can have the chances that I have today, and I don't think that I will ever take that for granted again. I am currently a junior in college. I plan on graduating next year with a bachelor's in biology and a minor in accounting. The following year I hope to attend Howard University to start the final phases in my quest to become a physician. I know that I can do it because so many people believe in me and because it's in my will.
Fabiola, Pine Manor College, Medford, Mass.
The struggle of Dr. King and the people involved in the Civil Rights Movement make me more diligent in serving others. As a teacher, I constantly challenge my students to realize that their accomplishments will inspire others. I encourage them to examine the life of great people such as Dr. King so that they may better understand unselfish service to others. Dr. King left us more than a dream: He paved a path of greatness for us to continue building. We must find causes that are not about self-gain but are for the greater good, and then we must move forward on that path, realizing that it is not our will but God's will to be done.
Faith, North Little Rock High School-West, North Little Rock, Ark.
I am from Arctic Canada, an Inuit (Eskimo). I am sure I could not be the registered nurse I am today if Martin Luther King Jr. had not been. At the time he was making his "I have a dream" speech, I was 11 years old and there was no TV where I live. I am not even sure there were voting rights in Canada for the Inuit at this time. I remember one teacher telling us that we could be and do anything we wanted in our lives, but after there was a realization that certain people had a head start if they had certain color of skin.
Even today, in my area of work, the other nurses and people in general are apt to ask me where a certain person or object is but will not ask or hesitate to ask me a question that requires medical knowledge. And my own people, my own race, are more apt to believe I am still in school and/or still practicing my skills, with comments like, "You can do that better than a REAL nurse."
Minnie, Great Whale River, Quebec, Canada
I just want to thank MLK Jr. for everything because even though I am a white girl, I have lots of African-American friends, and I could not even think about having them as a slave. Thank you, Martin!
Jessica, Atchison Middle School, Atchison, Kan.
I am glad that Martin Luther King Jr. did what he had to do. If he did not, I would not have many friends today and I would not have Mr. Teal, my favorite teacher.
Christina, Marvin M. Sedway Middle School, Las Vegas
Intrepid Hearts of '65 (excerpt)
We all saw them and our lids could not blink: the colored man, in hand with the white woman. It was as if even the breeze had held its breath to hear the flogging inner dialogue, as they walked and stopped to window gaze. The once-casual acceptance rolled out on the pavement vanished under their foot and reappeared at their backside. Eyes popped at the tweaking of the acceptable even in Sausalito. The colored man, the white woman, now arm in arm, never appeared to stumble. They never did look to the outside, but to the inside of each other. Their casual smiles were not disfigured by the whole affair, and when they walked away they looked only forward, unlike us who kept nagging over our shoulders. I remember, always, one last feeling: How very lonely it must be to brave the opposing tide of change, and how brave to sail ahead alone.
Jeanne René San Jose
My grandfather was a member of the NAACP about 50 years ago. His name was Rev. Walter Howard Dugan, a man I admire greatly. Every MLK Day I think of him and how he worked for justice for people of all races. He marched with Rev. King and worked very hard where he lived in Phoenix, Arizona, to help the cause. One of my favorite (true) stories about him is about how he helped integrate a movie theater in downtown Phoenix.
In the '50s the theater had a dusty, dirty balcony for the blacks and the regular lower section was for whites. He was a white minister of an Episcopal church and he teamed up with a black Baptist minister and they went in to see a movie and sat in the white section, both dressed as men of the cloth. They were told the black minister couldn't sit there. My grandfather argued that he wanted to sit with his friend, but when they wouldn't give in, he went with the black minister to sit in the balcony. The management protested that he couldn't sit there either because he was white, but they gave in to him sitting there after a while.
The next few days they teamed up several of their congregations, black with white, to do the same thing, with everyone winding up in the balcony. My grandfather and the black minister every once in a while would sit in the white section until the management finally gave up and said they could sit wherever they wanted to.
Grant, teacher at St. Agnes School, Phoenix, Ariz.
This is how it begins
1955 a friend at school has dark brown skin
he is lots of fun he has very curly hair like mine his name is henry
i still remember even though i was only five when we began our friendship
i was teased "is henry your boyfriend?" i stuck out my tongue
i was asked "why do you play with henry?" . . "because he's my friend"
"henry's a negro. you're playing with a negro" . .
"what's a negro?" "you're not supposed to play with them" . .
"mommy what's a negro?" "well, honey they're different from us" . .
"how are they different?" "they're just different" . . "oh"
different means not like me
not like me means something wrong
something wrong means something bad
something bad means we can't play
we can't play means henry plays alone
he's not my friend anymore
in the train station waiting for uncle to come home on leave
i can't reach the water fountain
an old man who has dark brown skin picks me up and helps me get a nice cool drink
he puts me down and smiles he has a full white beard and a kind face i can still remember
but i run away
he's different like henry
are we near an end yet?
Jeanne René San Jose
This quiz was an eye opener for me. I didn't realize how much I didn't know about African-American history.
Kelly, Satellite Beach, Fla.
Look at Oprah, she is a wonderful woman who cares for everybody. If you watch the show, the whites all gaze at her and they are so happy to be there. So many have reached their goals by watching the Oprah Show. If you got an autograph signed by Michael Jordan you would be like, "Oh my God!!" But back then he would get arrested for setting foot on a basketball court for whites. Times have changed.
Savannah, Plymouth, North Vancouver, B.C.
I really don't think my school cares that much about the holiday. Every year we have to go to school. They say it's for the built-in snow make-up days, but they never ever take any other days away, like Presidents Day or something like that. It hurts because we really should have something like an assembly, but we just have a three-minute talk about him. No one in my school really seems to care about this because they have not learned what Martin Luther King Jr. Day is all about. We only have just about three black kids in our school. I really wish they would do something.
Jaime, Woodbridge, Va.
He did a lot, but in a way he didn't because people don't care. I don't feel too good about the schools in my neighborhood because we don't get the proper education. Where I live is very bad because people do drugs, drink liquor and kill one another. I don't need to be around all of this because I am smart and intelligent.
Arkeem, Longview Middle School, Memphis, Tenn.
Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me to be a better person, to not separate the blacks and whites because of our skin color. We are the same people; just God made us all look different, some with big ears, some with small ears, some with long hair, some with short hair, some skin color white, some skin color black. It does not mean one color is bad and the other is good. It just means that we're all special in a way.
Taylor, West Laboratory, Miami, Fla.
Just reading some of the comments in this guestbook confirms my belief that no one, not even MLK, can change people's attitudes toward other people. I am sorry to say that. However, that is not to say that people cannot become AWARE of what needs to become a change in themselves, in their communities and in our world.
As a teacher, I tell my students: "When you control yourself, you control the whole world." If I had the opportunity to tell my compatriots, I'd say: "When you respect yourself, you can begin to respect the whole world." Or maybe, "When you make peace with yourself, you can make peace with the whole world."
Those who cling to negative attitudes about MLK's legacy, dream, or about people different from themselves simply are very unhappy, uneducated, under-supported people. It is these people who MLK would have wanted the rest of us to turn our supportive attentions to, even now. Especially now.
San, Winton Montessori School, Cincinnati, Ohio
I think that if we didn't have the Martin Luther King holiday, nobody would remember.
Kassy, Blythewood Middle School, Columbia, S.C.
Race relations today are definitely better that they were in the '50s and '60s, but I'm afraid kids today don't realize it. The students that I teach are well integrated. Blacks, whites, Hispanics and Arabic speakers of various Middle Eastern countries learn side by side without making derogatory comments about ethnic origin.
What kids in this community of Prospect Park, New Jersey seem to be hung up about is who's ugly, who's pretty, who's fat, who's tall, who's cool, who's athletic, who's got the latest sneakers, etc.
Kids today are not socially conscious. They don't know enough about their past to appreciate the freedoms they enjoy. They lack respect for their authorities, too, which limits how much they can learn. This generation benefits from the freedoms that King and his followers fought for. Hopefully, as they grow and mature, they'll develop an understanding and appreciation for how those freedoms were obtained so they can preserve them for their own descendants.
Michele, Prospect Park Public School, Prospect Park, New Jersey
I feel we are slipping back in time. But what surprises me is that we are all aware of this. The problem is, we will see a different outcome next time? If Dr. King was alive today, more than ever I feel he would think that there is not enough time to fix the problems we are creating in race relations. As Americans, it appears the only thing we master is discrimination, worldwide. I pray for our nation and the poison we have, in not having the ability to treat others the way we want to be treated in the same instance.
Dee, Bowling Green, Fla.
I am currently attending school to become a teacher, and something I am seeing that pleases me is teachers showing every aspect of different cultures and languages and even disabilities. I think the more you are exposed to something, the less different it will seem to you.
Though today you do still find very narrow-minded people, the majority of people today are very open-minded, and finally it is OK to be.
Jennifer, Brevard Community College, Melbourne, Fla.
Martin Luther changed lives all over the world and I thank him. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have my wonderful teacher, who I am proud to say is black.
Shantelle, De Zavala, Houston, Texas
Race relations today are better in some areas and not better in others, only different. One of the worst facets of prejudice today is stereotyping. Because one group of white people acted this way, they all feel the same; because this group of black people thought this, they all must feel the same. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Please, understand that everyone is their own person and that only he can decide for himself what kind of person to be. Avoid the stereotyping!
Michelle, Brevard Community College, Melbourne, Fla.
At my school, everyone sits together, everyone talks to each other, no matter what color you are.
Rachel, Blythewood Middle School, Blythewood, S.C.
I went to an elementary school that did not have any children of color. I remember that when I was in the sixth grade, they started busing children to our school because we were an all-white school. I can remember parents complaining about the issue to each other. Two things I remember they complained about was that these children would have body odor and we would have to sit next to them all day; and that head lice would now be in our school. I look back and think how cruel the parents were. Being in Florida and walking or riding your bike to school as we did every day, I am sure that we had body odor. Also I remember that some children did get head lice before but no one wanted to admit it because it was not something you talked about. So if a class did get head lice it was blamed on the black children.
I remember in junior high and high school that the black children would sit together and the white children would sit together. We were not forced to sit that way; that was just how it happened. If we broke into groups the black children would stay together and the white children would stay together.
Now today in my children's classroom, you never see the white children sitting by themselves or the black children sitting by themselves. I think that the children may notice a difference in skin color but not think anything about them being different. My two children never seem to think about race being something different. And I pray as they become adults in a few years that they too will not become influenced by someone that is prejudice. How times have changed for the better.
Netha, Brevard Community College, Melbourne, Fla.
Martin Luther King is an inspired man. I love his "I Have a Dream" speech. I think that maybe I could be like him. But they're against much of that around my town!
Taylor, Piner Middle School, Sherman, Texas
Personally at my school there are no blacks. But there are many different kinds of whites. I am German and none of my friends think of me differently because of that. I don't get why people would think differently of blacks.
Cristinea, Turner Middle School, Berthoud, Colo.
Martin Luther King Jr. is such an inspiring person to everyone. He is particularly a role model for me and what I plan to become. I would like to have a close black friend or two or three. I want to work to create a more diverse community in the classroom, on the weekends, in the cafeteria, and in the area I live in for now. Those areas will expand. Just because different colored people have the same rights doesn't mean they need to separate.
Andrew, De La Salle, New Orleans, La.
My family and I are second-generation Mexican Americans and give thanks to this great country that allows us to express our feelings. Because of great men such as Dr. Martin Luther King, the boundaries that color once made have now been breeched. We don't have to be Black Americans to appreciate this.
Daniel, Louisville, Ky.
I think MLK did not change racism for any color but black, and I think one of us Mexicans should stand up to all the people that make fun of us and tell us to go back to Mexico. I do not think that is right.
Kiesha, Walnut Middle School, Grand Island, Neb.
At my school, some of the black Americans are racist, but some of them are very nice. Even though I'm coming from Vietnam, I still feel bad about people who are racist, so I hope this will change, to make our world better.
Tuyen, Clarkston High School, Clarkston, Ga.
Even though I am white, I respect him.
McKinley, Wild Wood Forest Elementary, Raleigh, N.C.
I heard about the racism here in America between black and white people, and I couldn't imagine that myself. I am living here in America now, and I have traveled to Georgia, and in Augusta I saw how white people don't like black. Even black people don't play the golf course where white people are playing. I wonder why it still exists.
Mariela, Pasco, Wash.
Most of the comments I've read include people being proud of themselves for having multiracial friends. That makes no sense whatsoever. It doesn't depend on what COLOR their skin is, but on how they act around you. If your friend is black, then it is simply a brown-skinned person who has the same interest as you, nothing more, nothing less. I would personally be offended if my best friend was happy because of the fact that she was white and I was black. I am against having a white history month because that would lead to a Latin history month, then a Native American history month, then an Asian history month.
Jasmine, East Coweta High School, Sharpsburg, Ga.
Martin Luther King revolutionized the movement, and gave the guts to light the flame. Maybe one day there will be a black president, or female or Chinese or Italian.
After taking the quiz, I realized I may not be as educated in civil rights as I thought I was. Race relations today are more integrated, but there still are the same underlying tones of discrimination that there were almost 50 years ago. We as one people need to unite as HUMANS, not as races.
Maria, Brevard Community College, Melbourne, Fla.
I think that if Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be proud of what he accomplished.
Sydney, Grand Haven, Mich.
I have asked my fellow man, 'What will you do to celebrate this day?" Many do not have a answer. Our flag should shine this day, but it does not. Abroad our flag is rarely seen, unless it is being used in a protest against us.
Lyn, Philadelphia, Pa.
I plan to make Jan. 19 a memorable day for myself and for my children. This is very important because Dr. Martin Luther King gave us so much to be thankful for. I do not think that his dream has been fulfilled yet, but we just have to keep working on it and praying about it. "Keep the dream alive."
Catara, Deltona, Fla.
The impact of MLK Jr. is inestimable! I have had the profound honor of listening to Rev. Williams (a contemporary of MLK arrested, hounded, and never-yielding) as he passionately and movingly described MLK and the struggle of civil rights in the very church where Martin's grandfather and father preached. Unfortunately, racism is still ever-present although slowly, but surely, the dividing lines of color are being erased. At least today there is a legal as well as moral basis to arrest persecution and racism in all its ugly aspects.
Kathy, Brevard Community College, Melbourne, Fla.
Racism still exists, but thanks to King we can think twice about being sensitive to other people.
Eva, Salt Lake City, Utah
Every year at this time when I am sitting down with my child helping him to do a project on Dr. King, I get the opportunity to read about him. I feel that I really haven't done anything to help with what he was trying to accomplish. But this year I am hoping that if I can do one good thing to better a person's life, it will be a start to honor a great, great person like Dr. King.
Frank, Philadelphia, Penn.
I have a bunch of black friends and I cannot have them come over or talk to me online or on the phone because my parents are racist.
Ashley, Pioneer Middle School, Canton, Mich.
I was raised in Cocoa Beach, Fla. As a young person there really wasn't any diversity in the community. My parents taught me to be respectful of all people, and they had friends of many backgrounds. During the summer we would have college-age students from Ecuador live with us. If children are taught at a young age that we are all people with feelings and dreams, then color really won't matter them. I have two grandchildren and they have never even mentioned that some of my friends don't look like them. It isn't an issue unless you make it one. The Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself. All people should be thought of as your neighbor.
Helen, Brevard Community College, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
A moment that taught me something was when I was in a school in New York and every black kid used to tease every white kid for their skin color. So I thought about what Dr. Martin L. King said. So I told them about what he said, and they stopped teasing them.
Andrea, Greenview Elementary, Greenville, S.C.
I have felt for many years that Martin Luther King is a special hero for me. I started elementary school in 1966. I was young when I saw him on the TV and asked "Who is that?" My mother explained that he was working for all people to be fairly treated and especially for poor people, not only blacks, but all poor people. As I grew up, I myself learned about the civil-rights movement, by reading, through school, through TV, etc. I grew up in a small, almost all-white town in Washington state, but despite this the civil-rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther's work/life/death had deep meaning for me.
Last year, I was at my niece's and nephew's school in the state of Florida. There was a special program in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. I was very touched. It included a story that was signed and danced to at the same time in a style popular with young African Americans. But the high-school students that came to the program sat far away in the balcony, came in and out, and enjoyed their friends. My own niece and nephew didn't attend the program like many other students of the school.
From a comment I heard them make, they were just tired of hearing about Mr. Luther King and the civil-rights movement. The other people in the audience or helping with organization were teachers of the school and mainly older African Americans from the community. Other than the teachers there was hardly a white face there in the huge gymnasium except my own. This was really too bad because this program was so fantastic and the students/teachers involved were really talented and the purpose was to celebrate the improvements that had been made and reach out to all.
I wonder, though: If a program about Martin Luther King and celebrating the improvement in civil-rights was no big deal to the students, maybe that's because they were enjoying the rights that had been fought for.
Mary, Jeju City, Jeju, Island, Korea
Being African American and living in community predominately other, my family is accepted as merely a new neighbor to the community. I have been here a year and feel very much part of the community.
Race relations: It depends on where you live. In Detroit (from whence I came), due to white flight from the inner city to the furthest suburbs, African Americans have no race relations with whites, other then a working atmosphere or shopping in the malls (in the suburbs). Mall shopping in white communities has been filled with over- and undertones of racial tension for African Americans. In Maine, I am quite surprised with the relaxed atmosphere my family receives in the malls and generally in the entire area.
Assata, Bar Harbor, Maine
I knew and occasionally worked with Martin Luther King Jr. Quite simply, he was a man whose era called him to greatness. He didn't want the leadership mantle; indeed, when he was asked to lead the NAACP in Montgomery, he declined. Later, he decided to start, with Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and others, the Southern Christian Leadership conference, a temporary human and civil-rights organization. It exists today. Martin was as human as you and I. He was a pretty fair pool player. He liked to have fun and enjoy his friends in social gatherings. He was a very intelligent man; his IQ was quite high and he graduated with honors from some of America's best academic institutions. His doctorate was the crowning event of his young life, and later, his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize added to his wealth of honors. His untimely death at the hands of an assassin was not unthought of nor unpredicted. Others had tried to kill him before. Indeed, he seemed to know the evening before it happened that his time was soon.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a rare man, a man of his time who was ahead of his time. Men and women like him do not grace humanity often, and when they do, they are generally unappreciated. Too frequently, they must die before others give them the respect they deserved and earned. Humanity has much to learn.
Herb, Cincinnati, Ohio
Fortunately, I have always grown up with a great respect for those of a different diversity. I've always attended schools in which different races were present and I am happy to say that race isn't much of an issue. Though I will never forget the time I was volunteering as a preschool teacher and heard a young white boy name-calling at a black boy. So racism is still ever present, even in our society's young children.
Kimberly, Brevard Community College, Melbourne, Fla.
I would like to believe that race relations are better than ever, but somehow I think that might be naive. Some individual blacks may have achieved a measure of equality, but as a group blacks continue to be discriminated against.
Debbie, Brevard Community College, Rockledge, Fla.
Martin Luther King Jr. began a desegregation for not only the black people but also the Native American people. We were also and still are to some extent segregated and treated as second-class citizens. We still have a long way to go. May his journey include his watching over us all.
Carolyn, Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, Akwesasne, N.Y.
Today race relations are much better than they were 50 years ago. We are able to be friends with people who are a different race as us. People won't look down on us because we are friends with people who do not look the same as us. If it was 50 years ago, we couldn't be seen together. It is a big relief to us that we do not have to hide who we want to be friends with.
Amber & Keri, South Girard Jr. High School, Phenix City, Ala.
Since I am half Chinese and half white, I really don't know where I belong. Even though I am still made fun of and looked at differently, none of that matters to me because I live in a country where everyone lives together.
Amanda, South Girard Junior High School, Phenix City, Ala.
At my school, whites and blacks do go to school together, but when it comes being a classroom together, we're as segregated as it was back then. Blacks sit on one end of the class and whites on the other. Even though there aren't any racial problems going on in the class, there still is segregation. I believe that some things have changed but not everything.
Tiara, Cross Creek High School, Augusta, Ga.
In my school I am happy that it is not really racist or anything. I am proud to say that one of my best friends is black.
Silvia, Barrhead Composite High School, Barrhead, Alberta, Canada
The lack of knowledge is the root of all evil. I don't think I will ever comprehend why people of all colors cannot live in peace and operate in the communities as one. I think we all just need to grow up and step out of ourselves.
Rachel, Sprague High School, Salem, Ore.
If we had just one Martin Luther King in each generation, man would evolve in gigantic steps toward comprehension, faith and justice.
Elias, El Paso, Texas
I'm from South Korea. I learned a lot of things here. Americans were staring at me and they treated us as if we are weird people when I visited Maine, but it was not that serious. I'm not sure that I can treat others or behave myself as well as Martin Luther King when I grow up, but I'll try to treat everyone equally.
HyungJoon, Brewster Academy, Wolfeboro, N.H.
The advances made by Blacks in every arena can be attributed in some degree to Dr. King's life sacrifice. I feel very positive about the schools in my community, specifically the award-winning elementary school my two Black sons attend. They inspire academic excellence and instill hope. On a traditional grading scale I would rate our society C+ in the area of race relations. We have not achieved excellence in terms of a level playing field for all. But we are not openly flunking, forced to watch blatant racism rule in public and private business and industry.
Charles, Richmond, Va.