Students reminded to leave the right mark as they go through life

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2008

By Harold Keller

This week, schools throughout our country celebrated “Read Across America.”

The purpose is to instill into students the importance of reading and the important role it plays in education.  It’s a fact that students who enjoy reading are the ones who make the best grades,

Last week, I received a call from Mrs. Alison Cupit, the Curriculum Coordinator at West St. John Elementary School.  She invited me to participate in the reading program at the school.  I was honored that she asked me and quickly accepted.

Monday, I had the privilege of speaking to about 20 sixth graders.  Knowing that I would address a class with all black students, I decided to read a little and talk a lot about some blacks that made history and were real American heroes.  

Before I started my presentation, I asked each student who they admired and considered a hero.  Ninety percent said Dr. Martin Luther King.  I agreed with their selection and shared how he fought, without violence, and was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement that gave blacks equal rights.  He paid the ultimate price for his crusade for justice – he was killed.

I spoke of Rosa Parks.  She also made history.  I shared that it’s often said that we have to stand up for something or we’ll fall for anything.  Rosa Parks made history by refusing to stand.  She remained seated for a cause on a bus in Birmingham, Alabama, in a section reserved for whites.  Her bravery and non-violent spirit sent a message, loud and clear, throughout our country that she demanded equal rights.

I, also, shared about Jackie Robinson, the first black to break the color barrier in major league baseball.  He opened the door for future blacks in all professional sports.  He accomplished this the same way Dr. King and Rosa Parks did – without violence.  They focused of making life better for the people who would follow.

As I closed, I encouraged the children to read, respect themselves, each other, their parents and their teachers.  I told them to keep in mind that as they go through life, they will either leave a stain or a mark.  I encouraged them to leave a mark that will influence others, just as Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and Jackie Robinson did.

The students were very attentive and respectful.  I was blessed to have been asked to participate in their program.

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