Hello, everyone.

This past Thursday, students in Grades 3-5 gathered in the Multipurpose Room for a Morning Meeting to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.  The assembly featured 5th graders’ sharing their Bio Poems, emphasizing Dr. King’s righteousness, perseverance, and courage.  Mr. Allyn led all in attendance in a rousing rendition of a Runkle favorite, “The Dream of Martin Luther King.”

In his dream he saw the people of this land walking side by side

All the people of the nation loving one another with pride.

Now he’s gone away before the day his dream became a real thing.

But he’ll hear the angels sing about the dream of Martin Luther King

Sing about the dream of Martin Luther King.

During the assembly as well, I shared portions of his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, in which Dr. King explains to fellow clergymen why he felt that direct action, such as sit-ins and protest marches, was necessary, as opposed to the less disruptive path of negotiation.  In sharing the passages with the students I was struck not only by the morality, timelessness and purity of his words, but also by the exquisite beauty and power of Dr. King’s writing, some of which I share with you here:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was “well timed,” according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.”  We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.

 I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait. But…when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see the tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky… when you take a cross country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you… There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. 

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all of their scintillating beauty.

As our community’s hundreds and hundreds of cranes for peace make their way to our nation’s capital this weekend, I encourage us all to keep these messages and symbols of peace, justice, and hope actively present in our hearts and minds as we go forward to create our future.

Jim Stoddard


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