MOULTRIE — In light of the very recent death of Coretta Scott King and the somewhat recent death of Rosa Parks, one might wonder whether the younger generation feels the loss as poignantly as their grandparents might.

“All of the civil rights people are dying and we could go back to the way we were before them,” said Bianca Williams, 12, a student of Williams Middle School.

She said that she did not feel she was being educated enough on black history in her classroom and she would be interested in learning about other black figures in history.

Other students in the afterschool program, sponsored by Communities In Schools and housed at the newly renovated R.D. Smith Youth Center, agreed with her. It was a general consensus among them that Black History Month was not given enough emphasis in school. They seemed to feel that the legacy left by the Kings might be fading into the past because children were not being educated enough about them. One student said that she had tried to start a petition to have a more extensive African-American history taught but was not successful.

However, when asked “who is responsible for keeping the Kings’ legacy alive,” the youth were willing to accept responsibility themselves.

“We need to start stepping up to our game and continue what they did,” said Williams, who wants to be a teacher.

The students were very vocal in their opinions and beliefs about the way they perceived their world and themselves in it. One student brought up that “freedom of speech” was part of the First Amendment and that they should use it because some of the civil rights issues are still pertinent today. They raised their concerns about being labeled and felt that this was something that had not changed but when a paraprofessional asked them about labeling themselves, a couple of students agreed that this might contribute to the problem.

The students expressed doubts that the Kings’ children would be able to keep their parents’ work going.

“A lot of what they were trying to teach us is going to die down,” said Marvisha Edwards, 13, a student of Williams Middle School.

On a more heartfelt note, Edwards said that she was also glad that Mrs. King would be reunited with her husband again.

Vishondra Morton, 12, a student of Williams Middle School, however, believed that people would not forget the work the Kings had done for civil rights but would remember them. She was the only one out of the several students who participated in the discussion who voiced this opinion.

The one thing that everyone agreed on was the fact that they had made significant contributions to the community at large.

“I think they gave blacks a feeling of self-worth,” said Edwards.

A paraprofessional stressed her belief in the importance of activities in the community to bolster this feeling of self-worth.

In keeping with the belief of worthy activities, the youth group from Friendship Baptist Church took a trip to Atlanta to visit The King Center. While in Atlanta, they attended a memorial service for Mrs. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King had been ordained and had preached. They also visited both his and Mrs. King’s gravesites where they took a moment of silence for each.

“The children were quite excited because many of them had never been before,” said Mary Gibson, their youth director.

She seemed to get a feeling, through the youths’ comments, that they were affected by King’s personal affects that were on display in the museum. One young man was struck by the fact that King wore a cologne that is still popular today and that his suits seemed ordinary and that he wore jewelry like other people. Gibson said she believed that the group realized that he was an ordinary man just like their parents and people they know but he was able to do extraordinary things.

The church’s youth will also be visiting the Harriet Tubman Museum, the Georgia State Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon during this month.

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