Wichita-area teens reflect on Martin Luther King’s dream

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. TNS

As we get ready to celebrate and reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous dream, we asked the Eagle’s TeenTalk board how they’re living King’s dream and helping to make it become a reality.

I work toward Dr. King’s dream every day. I educate myself; I strive for understanding of all sides of issues. I fight to correct my mind against the stereotypes programed into it. I am loving, kind, generous and caring to all individuals regardless of their race or any other aspect of who they are. I am not a lawmaker, politician, or CEO, nor do I have great influence on the world. I do, however, have influence over my friends, my family, my school, and those I interact with on a daily basis. I do not have to organize rallies and fight loudly for justice to believe in and strive for Martin Luther King’s dream. Through love, decency, kindness and respect to all people, I am living his dream. — Autumn Crafton, Derby High School

A popular idiom in our culture is “never judge a book by its cover,” a phrase that refers to more than just literature, movies and other forms of media. My cover would be an 18-year-old white girl with dark hair that makes my skin look a little pastier. In actuality, I am half black. This combination would not have come to fruition if it wasn’t for the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. I feel I am living and bringing honor to King’s dream just by existing. By eliminating the Jim Crow laws, blacks and whites could go to school together, dine together, and work together (much like my parents who met at the Hutchinson Town Club). If segregation existed, I wouldn’t have been born. Or worse, I would’ve been treated with contempt and hatred for something I couldn’t control. We’re still a long way from what King truly envisioned for our world and for the people of his race, but mixed babies like myself (among other things) show that we’re taking tiny steps on the road of improvement. — Talisha Elizabeth Thompson, Wichita High School East

There are a few different ways in which I strive to live up to the example set by Martin Luther King Jr. I encourage my friends to have discussions about problems that are still prevalent in today’s society. Moreover, I actively seek out opportunities to improve the lives of those around me. I volunteer monthly with underprivileged elementary school kids, and I also volunteer at my church’s middle school youth program with the hope that I may have some sort of positive impact on these young people. When people ask me what my goal in life is, I always say the same thing – I hope to make the lives of the people around me better. And, although I will never have the same impact that Dr. King had, maybe, in some small way, I will be able to further his dream. — Nathan Hostert, Kapaun Mt. Carmel

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream lives through me today because I am able to go to a school full of diversity. Fifty years ago, I would be getting a second-rate education in comparison to my white peers, while missing out on opportunities to reach my full potential by going to college and getting the job of my dreams. As a young woman of Jamaican and Indian heritage, it is never lost on me just how brave Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the civil rights movement were to speak up in a time where silence was safer. I hope that I can be a part of furthering his dream of equality by spreading a message of acceptance. I will further his vision by not standing by when I see or hear something that is discriminatory to others. One of the things that made King so great was his ability to speak up when he saw injustice happening, and I hope I can be as brave. — Toni Melhado, The Independent School

Fifty years ago, you would not have been able to find around 20 high-schoolers gathered on a Saturday evening with egg-rolls, spinach pies and Krispy Kreme donuts sitting on the grass and peacefully discussing issues around the globe. Fifty years ago, International Club would have been a rare jewel in the midst of all the segregation. An amalgam of different nationalities, religions, and political views, we students were individuals strung together as united equals that Saturday. Naturally, all students want to escape school over the weekend, but we voluntarily came back on campus to converse with open minds (and a diverse array of foods). All opinions were freely voiced and differing views turned into thorough conversations. Fifty years ago, we would not have even been allowed to go to school together. Dr. King’s dream has allowed for so much beyond desegregation; it has paved the road to acceptance and freedom, the ability to disagree with someone religiously and not be shunned for it, the ability to be a different color than someone and not be treated like trash, the ability to have a voice, no matter what your voice is saying. — Talah Bakdash, Wichita Collegiate School

One of my best friends has a white father and a black mother, and both of my parents are white. Yet when we hang out together, it doesn’t matter at all. I believe that that Martin Luther King’s dream comes true every day of our friendship. — Grace Donaldson, Maize South

I am living Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream by doing my best to improve the world I live in, by treating others equally and fairly in my everyday interactions with them. Over the years, I’ve realized that everyone has their own background culture and perspective that I can learn from. Having the opportunity to gain experiences from the diversity around me has certainly made me grow and mature into a more open-minded and socially responsible semi-adult. Someone who I’ve become close with recently had never thought about the fact that people have different beliefs. While we may think they’re strange, we’re just as strange in their perspective. It surprised me that he had never thought of this idea before, but I was glad that I had the chance to guide someone toward being more open-minded. Even if it was just a person at a time, it was still a difference that I made. Every small drop creates a small ripple that can change the ocean. — Julie Spangler, Andover High School

I am an optimist. The best in people always shines through to me. Regardless of what others have said about the people around me, I cannot help but see the good in others. I do not judge if I can help it. Other people are wonderful lights in my life, and I am extremely grateful for Martin Luther King affecting change in my life where I was not raised to see the people around me as lesser based on their skin color or culture and to simply accept others as they are. So thank you, Dr. King, thank you for the gift of acceptance. — Jeffrey Birch, Bishop Carroll

My friends and I enjoy debating (in a peaceful and friendly way, of course) about current racial issues which I believe Martin Luther King would be proud of. For example, when my friends and I talked about what is going on in the news, the Ferguson case came up, and we each explained our thoughts on the case. We gave each other turns and didn’t interrupt when anyone else was talking. We respectfully listened in order to get all point of views on the case. Nobody ever got mad or called the other person “ignorant” or “stupid.” This way, all of us got to express our opinions on current racial issues. — Kaylee Grant, Andover Central

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