Across the country people are sharing memories on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Some are from the classroom.
Betty Anderson, now the copy editor for the Seattle Times, recalls the less than positive response from her teachers in Alamaogordo, New Mexico when she and a group of junior high students wore black to mourn King’s assassination. “They made little remarks like, ‘We don’t have that kind of problem here, so why are you doing this?” Anderson also remembers when her music teacher canceled her choir’s performances after white parents complained about her kissing a white boy in the school play.
Kathy Callum recalls how things changed at her high school following the assassination. “…We looked at each other not by the content of character, but the color of skin,” Callum tells the Denver Post. Today she is the interim principal at the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Early College. Early in her tenure, Callum decided to travel to each classroom to read from Dr. King’s writings after some behavioral problems. “I wanted to share some of his wisdom, so they could understand the importance of being at a school named for this very important man.” Says Callum, “…Hopefully, the seed was planted.”
The American Federation of Teachers provides a short history on the labor strike that brought Dr. King to Memphis and the support he received from the AFT and the United Federation of Teachers.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.