Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored by Pasadena Unified School District students through various service activities, celebratory musical and dance performances, and art and essay contests.
As part of their beautification program, the Pasadena MLK Community Coalition led Madison Elementary School students, their families and staff in a day of planting and landscaping their campus.
Additionally, singing and dancing by McKinley School and Madison students accompanied the announcement of the art and essay contest winners.
Congratulations to 12th grader Aidyn Cooper of the Center for Independent Study Academy for her winning essay. In celebration of our nation’s greatest civil rights leader, we share her essay with you in its entirety.
“Let Freedom Ring”
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the man who redefined America. In a nation where all men were thought to have been created as equals, proud men with hateful hearts roamed the streets of discrimination. In a country woven by the hands of the young and the liberated, freedom became less of an ideal and more of a trademark. The intrinsic value of freedom was in desperate need of revival and that was the reality of Martin Luther King’s dream. Through nonviolent protests, letters, speeches and campaigns, a war to a better America was being fought and the likelihood of its arrival was dim, but our hero remained hopeful. Martin Luther King had a dream where segregation, racism, injustice, and inequality were things of the past. He saw a brighter future, a future which we’ve come to know as the present. A world where every man is granted their unalienable rights, where justice is based on action and not appearance, where children see the souls beneath the skin and welcome them with open arms, a world where we are proud to call ourselves Americans. As far as the institution and the individual are concerned, we are far from flawless but with our heroes in mind, such as Dr. King, we continue to strive towards the greater good in the ongoing fight to preserve the truths we hold to be self-evident.
Martin Luther King inspired the belief of equality and the unalienable rights of which we are granted by birth, it is through his example we act with unfaltering persistence to keep this idea of equality afloat in all aspects of life. For example, the government protects us from any discrimination in the workplace using the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws. No matter what your sex, race, or religion, you lie under the vigilant hand of civil rights and equate opportunity with egalitarianism. It is under these laws we find that possibilities are infinite and it is with great pride that we take advantage of the freedom at hand. However, freedom is still in its early stages of development and although we’ve come a long way we have yet to grasp its intended potential. Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King’s widow, believed that same-sex marriage was a civil rights issue; she is quoted saying “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” With the same message, within its original context, we enforce the words of Dr. King, whether it is in light of blacks, gays, women, or any other community on the receiving end of injustice. It is our duty as Americans to be the successors of Martin Luther King, Jr. because if there is one thing he has proved it is that one man can make a difference. “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”
America’s past is proof that the judicial system is in constant need of refinement and through interference we can hope to diminish every last remnant of injustice. Martin Luther King led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and as a result his house was bombed, he was arrested, but the United States District Court ruling that followed, Browder vs. Gayle, ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. He understood that radical change was in direct correlation with sacrifice that in order to encounter equality we must endure discrimination. His defiance is what led America into a new era of intuitive morality based on integrity not identity, a new era of courageous Americans ready to exercise their right to the First Amendment. The Militant reported a recent protest in Alabama where 3,000 people marched and rallied against a new anti-worker law which allows police to arrest immigrants believed to be undocumented citizens. In these situations families are forced to separate and friends must say goodbye, it is with sympathy and outrage people rally together to fight what they know to be wrong. It is with Martin Luther King’s example they stand up before the law, accepting sacrifice and inviting change. “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”
We are at the beginning of a brand new decade, a future as uncertain as the past once was and everyday there is evidence that our nation will continue to bloom with all the integrity of the original constitution intact. During the time of the African American Civil Rights movement, segregation was an issue that not only prevented the internal acceptance of another race, but stripped children of their dignity when faced with the negative emphasis on their skin color. In 2007, the students of Turner County High School had their first integrated prom, “It’s been a dream of all of ours.” Senior class president James Hall said. This is exactly the kind of acceptance that Martin Luther King dreamt of, where there was no place for segregation because there were no boundaries based on color. Both Turner County High School and all of America are saying goodbye to old traditions and welcoming this reformed way of thinking with open minds and open hearts. “We cannot walk alone and as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”
On the third Monday of January each year, we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and from sea to shining sea to him we are indebted. He is the reason our heads our held high without fear of oppression and our nation is not governed with a narrow mind. He inspired the meek, instilled hope in the broken, and pieced a crumbling nation back together again. It is through Martin Luther King’s dream we have arrived at the root of a forever prospering nation, rather than shy from enlightenment we will continue to welcome new tradition and every day we will unfold into another dimension of equality. “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”