In honor and recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Newtown brothers Karl and Kenneth Miller are sharing the following essays, which they authored some years ago. Kenneth was in 4th grade when he wrote his, Karl in 10th.
Both young men, who are Black, make clear that Dr. King is a daily inspiration to them. But the brothers also express their anger at the inequality and racism they experience and witness, each in age-appropriate language and tone.
We encourage you to ask your children what Martin Luther King, Jr means to them. What do they know about Dr King? How are they inspired by him? What racial injustices have they witnessed? What might they do to make their school, their town, their country a more equitable place for all?
And whether you have children or not, spend some time today thinking about MLK Jr. Consider what he means to Black Americans, both young and old. Reflect upon how he changed our country and how he might want each one of us to work toward achieving his Dream.
NAFC is grateful to Karl and Kenneth for sharing the following essays with us. There was no need, nor desire, to edit them in any way.
My name is Kenneth Miller and I’m here to talk about the past and the present.
In my family, we celebrate Martin Luther King because he was a great man who fought for civil rights.
He believed that all people are equal, but black and brown people were not being treated that way.
Martin’s passion to be an equalist was ignited when he was very young and the father of his white friend said that they couldn’t play together anymore. Martin saw that white kids went to a nice school with a playground but the black kids school didn’t even have windows.
Martin Luther King spent his life fighting for civil rights and was assassinated on April 4th, 1968.
He was only 39 years old.
Today, we are still fighting for civil rights. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech mentions police brutality. He said, “We can never be satisfied, as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horror of police brutality.”
Today, because of cell phones and cameras, we are much more aware of how people of color are victims of police brutality.
These videos have ignited the passion to fight for civil rights and to understand black history.
The Black Lives Matter movement includes people of every race.
I went to a rally in my town where there were many more white people than black.
Martin Luther King believed in peaceful protest, but he had to be angry about how he was treated.
I am angry too.
My family put out a Black Lives Matter sign in our yard and it was stolen. So we did what I think Martin Luther King would have wanted us to do. We got a bigger sign and nailed it very high up in our tree, and then we put smaller signs on every tree in front of our house.
I am inspired by Martin Luther King every day of my life.
Karl Miller’s Essay:
|Dr. Martin Luther King is a hero to me. His dream for equality, a dream that he ultimately died for, and the peaceful manner in which he fought inspire my life daily. In fact, if not for MLK, I would not exist, because it would not be legal for my parents to be married. If not for MLK, I would not have waited in line at the age of five with my parents to be the first family to vote for our first black president. I would not have grown up in Newtown, CT, attending school with primarily white peers. There are so many things that would not be where they are today, but we still have so much work to do. I have felt the rage of being called a “fat lipped nigger” by a boy in my class whom I thought was my friend. That same year, I decided to try something new with my hair and grew it out and got cornrows. Three girls in my cluster went to the administration of the school to say they didn’t feel comfortable around me because “I might be a drug dealer”. This year, kids on my baseball team decided to send very racist memes to our team group chat and made fun of me for complaining about them. Also in school, where I am one of very few brown skinned students, it is very common for people to make racist comments to me. On an almost daily basis, I remember Dr. King and I carry on his message. Not just about blacks, but about everything that makes us who we are like our abilities, income, religion, or sexuality. I take a stand, peacefully, but knowing that I am not the first. I have written essays, spoken up to adults who can help, and simply pointed out the ignorance around me. I have a picture of MLK and other black leaders above my bed to remind me not to give up on my dream. My dream is that we are able to celebrate our diversity and accept each other as we are. My dream is that my little brother, who shares my black hair and brown skin, never experiences what I have. My gratitude is that I have so much more than I would if not for the dreams of Martin Luther King.|