In 2020 we were presented with seemingly insurmountable challenges: from a global health pandemic that has illuminated how economics affects health and health care, to the very public outcry for social justice. These dilemmas have left all of us dealing with serious questions while trying not to give in to feelings often described as hopelessness and helplessness.
The theme of the 27th Annual Unity Sports MLK Breakfast Program, based on Dr. King’s last book, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” was “Where do I go from here?” The purpose of our program was to inspire individuals to take specific actions that will contribute to improving the health, economic and social condition of our community. Reflections were solicited from Hillcrest Middle School students who viewed the program, and several were accepted for possible publication. The video can be viewed on the Unity Sports Soccer Club YouTube Channel.
-Hiram Springle, founder of Unity Sports
Read the excerpts below.
Seventh grade, Hillcrest Middle School
2020 has been a crucial year for everybody, but hopefully I can turn that around for you. There are many things that you and I can do to make this world a better place because we are the leaders of tomorrow. We can easily make our society a better place by having peaceful protests, being friendly and not critical when voting, and being nice to people and giving them confidence. It really isn’t hard at all to make our community a better place. We just need to add positivity.
Protests are a major thing that people need to add more positivity to. Protests can sometimes be really mean and really violent when really they should just be a peaceful way of showing one’s opinion.
Another thing the citizens need to do in our community is vote. I know a lot of people aren’t the age to be able to vote, but eventually you will be able to and voting shouldn’t come with all of the negative energy that it does today. Voting shouldn’t be about fighting because a group of people don’t like the choices of the people who are winning the election. It should be about coming together as a community and coming together as friends and coming together as a country to decide who everybody thinks should be the president of our country. Instead, everybody is fighting because they know somebody who voted for the person that they hated. Voting should be more about coming together and choosing together who we want our next president to be, not fighting about it and turning it into a war. Lastly, everybody should be nice to everybody. In our world today people are getting in fights, battles, and it ends up losing friendships and relationships. Being nice to people will make you and them feel good. If you give somebody a compliment, more than likely they will spread it on to somebody else, and it will make the day for many people. Even just by holding the door for somebody walking by, smiling and waving at somebody who seems lonely, or telling someone that they look nice will make a person gain a positive attitude, which is what everybody needs in this world right now. Coming together as a community to vote, and having peaceful protests, will make our society a better place that everybody will absolutely love.
Seventh grade, Hillcrest Middle School
Our generation will make society better. To make society better, we can vote for responsible leaders; we can look into the past at what we did wrong and not repeat those things; and we can use our voices.
In the past, we have voted for responsible and irresponsible leaders. From the past, we know who were good, and who were bad. When voting, we need to look a little bit further than just what they say they will do and their “beliefs.” We need to look into their personalities and what they have actually said that may counter their so said “beliefs.” An important thing to look at is if they respect everyone no matter who they are: a different color, different sexuality or different genders. We all have human rights. We are all the same race, the human race. We can use our right to vote in the future to create a better country and better citizens.
History repeats itself if we don’t learn from it. We must look into the past and see the horrible things that have happened and how they happened and learn how to not repeat them. Take COVID-19 for example. We didn’t make enough precautions towards it nor did we have everyone doing what they were supposed to do to stop the spread. Also, we can look at what the leaders have done and if they did well in these certain types of circumstances. If we think they did well, then we can possibly elect someone like them, or elect them again. If not, then we can learn not to elect someone like that nor elect them again. Many things have happened in the course of just the past year, and in the past 100-200 years, that we can learn from and figure out how to not repeat them.
Let’s use our voices. Our voices are the most powerful thing we have. We can use them to tear down and to build up. Martin Luther King Jr. used his voice and made a difference. We can use our voices to speak up for what’s right. We can’t just stand on the side and pretend like it’s not happening. We need to help. Take the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, and the peaceful protests. We used our voices to get justice. Sadly we didn’t get justice for everyone, but we did our part.
There is still much to be done, though: from MLK’s speeches about peace and equality, to Rosa Parks refusing to get up from her seat, to the brave people who used their voices to speak out against police brutality this year. We have proved that our voices are being heard as long as there is someone to hear them, which brings me to my next way. We must listen. Listening can be just as important as speaking. When we listen, then we can understand. Understanding can lead to change. Change can lead to a better society. We will be the change we need.
Seventh grade, Hillcrest Middle School
In my life I have had many hardships, but at the same time I have had many good things in my life. Some of them have been because of racism or just some parental issues. I didn’t live with my mom or my dad, yet I still learned the dangers of being a Black man in America. I learned to be silent because if you don’t, you could lose your life. I learned that even if someone gets to know you, they can still be racist towards you. I learned that no matter how good I am on the inside, I am still Black on the outside. Many other Black people go through this. I have been blessed with a very funny personality, so I haven’t experienced the full force of racism. I also have been adopted into a white family, so I am mostly not seen as a threat. But 2020 and the MLK Breakfast Program have both really opened my eyes on what many of my brothers and sisters are going through. Though I am a child I still want to help. I think if we make sure everyone in this generation knows what’s going on, and understand that lives have been lost, I really think our generation can make a difference! Now today I am going to ask my family if we can donate to a local church or churches because I know that churches are safe places and providers for Black communities. I don’t know if anyone will read this, but if they do I hope they care because racism is a real problem and the only way for it to be solved is if every, and I mean everyone, is on the same page. Peace between the races is something that America needs, so I call all of my generation (Gen Z) to take a stand against racism and bring peace in the world. No more standing on the sidelines. We are doing this for not just us, but for all the generations after us! Now like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.”