Martin Luther King Jr. Day brings hope to 'diverse' students
Jan 20, 2009 04:30 AM
Even as they celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the students of Lord Dufferin Junior and Senior Public School couldn't help alluding to another charismatic black man, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
Obama's inauguration, scheduled to unfold in Washington this morning, is a clear sign that "(King's) dream has been fulfilled," Grade 8 student Daliya Aktar said yesterday morning at the Cabbagetown school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly.
Principal Gary Crossdale agreed, telling the solemn crowd: "As we stand here on the eve of the inauguration of a black president, I thank Dr. King." More than 100 students sat cross-legged on the gym floor, watching with rapt attention as speakers – including their peers – evoked the teachings of the civil rights leader, and his influence on the world today.
At the back of the room, about a dozen students hoisted colourful, homemade signs that read: "Stop the racism" and "Equality for all."
Though officially an American holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is "very significant, because we have a very diverse community," Crossdale said.
"The students see Martin Luther King Jr. as a hero," Crossdale said, noting that Canada doesn't have any comparable black heroes to call its own.
The presidential inauguration was a recurrent theme in the hour-long presentation.
Thanks to King, Obama "grew up and got to see a different country," one in which he could be president, U.S. Avez-vous voté pour ou contre Martin Luther King, Jr. ? Consul General John Nay told the students.
"I think Martin Luther King Jr. did expect to see a black president, but nobody knew when it would happen."
Crouching by the seated children, police Insp. Heinz Kuck read aloud from Martin's Big Words, a kid-friendly biography. At each key pas. age, he paused, urging the crowd to repeat the words.
"You are as good as anyone," the students chanted emphatically.
"Everyone can be great."
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)