Local students share their impressions of Martin Luther King Jr.

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 21, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech three years before Amy Stokes was even born, but the message isn’t lost on the first-grade teacher.
“Schools were integrated when I attended Overton Elementary, so I didn’t live this either,” she said. “But I didn’t have to live it to appreciate what it must have been like for other children and I think we should never forget the sacrifices of American heroes.”
Stokes, who teaches at Granite Quarry Elementary, spent part of last week teaching her students about the civil rights activist, reading them books and explaining how King’s work impacted society. “They can understand that he was a kid just like them who went to the playground and there were unfair rules that hurt him so much that he grew up and wanted to do something about it,” she said. “A 6-year-old is completely capable of understanding that.
“We build on what they already know and understand and then we try to extend that into more divergent thinking about how they may want to take action and improve something around them as they get older.”
Stokes said it’s important to explain to children why they have holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“They love knowing why you do things,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything more important than for children to realize the sacrifices that have been made in history, so that they can all go to school together and have not only the ability to have a rich education with lots of opportunities, but exposure diversity that improves your life.”
A Post reporter interviewed students at Granite Quarry and Overton elementary schools last week about their impressions of King.
Here are the responses in their own words:

• “Dr. King was a real hero, he changed the rules.”
— Dameon Hill, first-grader at Granite Quarry

• “He loved everybody and wanted all the children to be friends even if they were different.”
— Cindy Peterson, first-grader at Granite Quarry

• “He was a nice person because he did something for everyone and he believed skin color did not matter.”
— Deshaun Kluttz. first-grader at Granite Quarry

• “He made sure no one felt left out. He didn’t care if people’s skin was different, he wanted them to be together.”
— Jaiden White, first-grader at Granite Quarry

•“He did nice things for everyone because he said skin color doesn’t matter, no matter color what it is.”
— Frankie Pleitez, first-grader at Granite Quarry

•“He didn’t care if everybody didn’t have the same color skin. He said they shouldn’t be separated, they should always be together.”
– Logan Storms, first-grader at Granite Quarry

•“I like him because he loved all children no matter what.”
— Jaila Baker. first-grader at Granite Quarry

•“I think that he was a good man because the laws were unfair back then because white people and African-Americans couldn’t go to school together or anything. I’m glad he helped change things.
— Zachary Garner, third-grader at Overton

•“He had a dream to make things fair.”
— Catrina Kirkley, third-grader at Overton

• “I am so thankful that I had a leader like Martin Luther King Jr. because he fought for what most people didn’t. He stood up for people who were being mistreated and I admire that because color really doesn’t matter. If it wasn’t for what he said and fought for, I wouldn’t be able to have the same life I have and love today.”
— Quinnlan Watson, fifth-grader at Overton who won second place in the annual essay contest sponsored by the Hefner VA Medical Center

•“I wouldn’t have as many friends as I have now if there was still segregation, so he kind of made it where we can have friends and we can all just be happy and live together. It’s character that matters.”
— Dwayne Bivins, fifth-grader at Overton who won second place the contest