Students study Dr. King's writings before D.C. trip

12:19 PM, Aug 25, 2011   |    comments
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The MLK Memorial in Washington, DC

ATLANTA -- Students and staff at Atlanta Youth Academy can agree on one thing about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"He's more than the "I Have Dream Speech'," said Principal Derrick Lockwood.

Nineteen students from the Southeast Atlanta school will go to Washington, D.C. this weekend for the dedication of the King Memorial.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: MLK Memorial

The students have spent each day since classes began last week studying Dr. King, including analyzing his major speeches and other writings.

"He couldn't just freely write the letter from the Birmingham jail because people were watching him all the time," Lockwood told the students during a class. "So they would bring him the newspaper and tissue paper and stuff like that, and he would write on that for hours."

Students at the Christian school want to follow King's path into working on problems within the community, including his commitment to "social gospel," which involves working to improve social problems like poverty-related issues.

The students are also learning many of Dr. King's quotes, which they expect to see on the wall of his memorial this weekend.

"I have decided to stick with love," seventh grade student Brian Strozier said, quoting King. "Hate is too big a burden to bear." 

"That means to me, if you keep hatred in your life, you will have a heavy burden on you while the other person is free as they can be," said eighth grader Essence Carter.

Chloe Johnson, 13, read another quote," Life's most persistent and urgent and persistent question is, what are you doing for other?"

"What that means to me is we're always walking around worrying about what we need to get or what our parents need to buy us, but not about what others need," said 12-year-old Andrea Maia.

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor," eighth grader Bianca Tate said, quoting King again. "It must be demanded by the oppressed." 

"(It means) you have to make it known that you want freedom and you can't sit idly by and let people walk all over you," said 13-year-old Timothy Deshay.

The lessons on Dr. King have made the students think deeper about their own lives.

"I want every single one of you in your own words to be able to express what Dr. King means to you," Principal Lockwood said.

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