01/21/08 — Message lost? New generation needs to hear King’s message of hope

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Message lost? New generation needs to hear King’s message of hope

One of the consequences of the new generation’s focus on video games and the Internet is that often young people do not know their heroes.

In fact, a poll of many of those who enjoyed a day off today might have revealed few of them who actually understood the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of equality and opportunity for all people.

Many of them might not have ever heard Dr. King’s great “I Have a Dream” speech or know the details of the courageous stands he took.

One of the fears of those who have carried on Dr. King’s Civil Rights Movement in recent decades is that there will not be a next generation to carry the banner of peace, love, respect and responsibility.

They worry that Dr. King’s message is lost on a generation of young people who are so far removed from the battle for equality and whose own world is so full of possibilities and opportunities.

They are afraid that these teenagers will be too busy listening to their rappers and their sports heroes to really get the significance of an historical figure whose efforts changed their futures.

Let’s hope they are wrong.

It is our job to make sure that young people look in the right place for heroes and role models. We have to push them to learn about the men and women who have come before them and made their freedoms possible.

We have to show them that achievement begins in school and within yourself, not on a football field or in a music video.

We have to honor those students who are pushing themselves to achieve and to live up to the legacy they are charged with continuing and hold them up as examples of what is right about America.

And every January, we need to sit them down and tell them the story about one man who changed the world.

Published in Editorials on January 21, 2008 10:59 AM