Published On: Fri, Jan 20th, 2017

Children: Missing in Action During the MLK Observances

As I attended and participated in the local Martin Luther King, Jr., observances this past weekend, one thing was clearly missing – middle and high school age children.

From a fish fry at the Masonic Temple to a jazz concert and an ecumenical service at a local church, the audiences were comprised of adults. The only children present were those of participants, who were primarily middle-school students.

There were however about 30 who attended the track and field event at Pompey Park as well as a few hundred who participated in the silent walk.  But those events were more of a recreational and fun nature and not geared to education.  On the other hand, there were the ecumenical service, the breakfast and the dinner, where one was sure to be educated on the importance of service, equality, opportunity and justice for all, principles to which Dr. King dedicated his brief life.

In retrospect, I think, like the adults many of our youth were not interested in “going back to church” on a Sunday evening for an all faith service. And certainly they would rather go to the South Florida Fair on the actual holiday than attending the breakfast or dinner.

Oh how times have changed. I recall as a child, when we were busy studying our roles in the church play as Mary or Joseph or wondering how many lines you have to learn or even “how many presents I’m going to get?”

Somehow, we have lost touch with our youth and we need to seize the reins quickly. I am afraid that our children are not getting the basic lessons on love and respect they need. So, I think sometime over the MLK weekend, there needs to be “teach-in” session on the values of nonviolence, including unconditional love, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation, which are so desperately-needed to unify America.

We need not wait for once a year to do this though. Our children learn very little about their history and culture in most public schools, therefore it is important that they be involved in cultural programs and events in their communities.

For example, had there been any youth attending the ecumenical service, the breakfast or the dinner, they would have learned from fellow youth speakers how they should fight evil, not people, and to get in the habit of asking themselves, “what is the most loving way I can resolve this conflict?”

It is no wonder why our young people are so clueless about the depth of Dr. King’s life as was evidenced by some of their entries in the annual oratorical competition recently.

It is obvious that we have a lot to of work to do to ensure our young people are prepared educationally, socially and culturally to navigate the pathways of life that awaits them.

Share your thoughts. C. Ron Allen can be reached at [email protected] or 561-665-0151.

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