Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peace Poem

Peace is to . . .
a poem by Milwaukee teens
composed at The Kujichagulia Lutheran Center's
8th Annual Dr. King Day Event, 2008

Peace is to hug
Peace is to love
Peace is to have fun
Peace is to share
Peace is to jump for joy
Peace is to relax
Peace is to be happy
Peace is to show your feelings
Peace is to show faithfulness
Peace is to share happiness
Peace is to live
Peace is to enjoy
Peace is to appreciate
Peace is to be fair
Peace is to love
Peace is to be equal
Peace is to be nonviolent
Peace is to not fight
Peace is to love your family
Peace is to say no to conflicts
Peace is to respect others no matter what
Peace is to give
Peace is to love as to love is to cherish
Peace is to admire
Peace is to be kind
Peace is to stop war
Peace is to share
Peace is to be kind
Peace is to be faithful
Peace is to cherish

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dream Keepers Meet Writer Yolanda White

On January 16th, the Dream Keepers met Milwaukee-area writer Yolanda White. What fun we had hearing about her writing gigs and doing some of our own writing! The picture features from left to right, Writer Yolanda White, a friend of Yolanda's, Dream Keepers Deanna and Natalie Branch.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

America Must Change: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last fall, I challenged the Dream Keepers to write essays for the local Martin Luther King essay contest. The contest theme was America Must Change. I brought stacks of books from the library. The Dream Keepers spent two sessions reading and taking notes. Then they wrote rough drafts. I read the essays and gave some feedback. The Dream Keepers asked to add extra writing sessions so that they could polish their essays. I happily agreed.

After the essays were turned in, I promised the Dream Keepers that I would publish their work once the judging was complete. None of the Dream Keepers placed in the essay contest--but I consider all of them winners. The Dream Keepers took time to learn, think, and write about a topic of significance. In this process, they gained wisdom that can never be taken away from them. On Sunday, the Dream Keepers will read their essays at our church, Hephatha Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. They will have the opportunity to talk to their community about how America must change.

Take a moment to read their essays and pass on the link to your friends and family. Let others know what the Dream Keepers are saying about how America Must Change.

America Must Change
by Maya N. Montgomery

“When the history books are written
someone will say there lived black people
who had the courage to stand up for what is right.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore, p. 1

I think that America must change by stopping the rates of murder, educating youth, building more schools than jails, stopping teen pregnancy, and stopping selling guns and drugs.
If we control ourselves and do not control other people the world would be a better place. To change America, I must change myself. To do this I must be a leader and not a follower. I must be my own and unique person. I must think of the effect of what I do on the people around me. In my community, I see children choosing to go to church on their own. I go to church instead of staying in bed. I do my work instead of talking in class. I be a friend to make friends.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said violence is not the answer. I think that abusing our bodies is violence. When we use drugs and have unsafe sex, we are abusing our bodies. People stand up for their rights when they do not use drugs and have unsafe sex. To stop teen pregnancy, all girls need to go to a class talking about the effect of unsafe sex and pregnancy. Once they are pregnant, they drop out of school, and then they cannot support their child because they cannot get a job.
People stand up for their rights by leading people to do positive things, by telling them the right thing to do and not the wrong thing. Parents should send their kids to school to get a better education. In my church, there is a woman who is fostering a little boy who is autistic. We learn from her.
America will change by people standing up for what is right. I have that dream. I hope you feel the same way.

America Must Change
by Elisha Branch

Because you are colored.
“Because you are colored,” is the response that Dr. Martin Luther King got after asking, “Why do we have to ride on the back of the buses, use separate public bathrooms, and drink from different water fountains?” People were led to believe that black people were not worthy of having the proper respect, kindness, and dignity that all human beings should have. And for this reason, black people were not allowed to have the same rights and privileges. Black kids and white kids were not allowed to go to the same schools. They were not allowed to go to the same churches or to sit in the same room at doctor’s offices. Many great heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks thought that this must change.

You are as good as anyone.
Martin Luther King’s mother once told him, “You are as good as anyone.” That is why he thought that the way his people were being treated was cruel and wrong. With that thought, a group of ministers formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This group worked against the black and white segregation laws. In 1957,Martin Luther King was selected president of the group. The SCLC did many protests and speeches all across the country. They fought for equal rights for all.

I have a dream today.
Many years ago, people took different approaches towards the changes in America. Now there is a new problem. Not the problem of black people believing that we are not worthy but us acting like we are not worthy of being respected. We are disrespecting ourselves and other people. Future great leaders of today—positive leaders and some children of America—think that this must change.

To the mountaintop.
Children and positive leaders of today started organizations like the Boys and Girls clubs and learning centers so that there could be positive places for kids to go when they were out of school. People also made commercials and television programs such as “Hang Tough” to encourage kids to be drug and alcohol free. These groups and organizations do these things to get kids off the streets. If we get more kids off the streets there will be a decrease n violence. People do these things to protect the children and adults in America. With so much violence and war in the world, we are all trying to join together and say, “America must change.”

“I see a ray of hope but I am different from my father. I feel the need of being free now.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

America Must Change
by Deanna Branch

We live in a society warped in turbulence. Many of today’s youth are living a painful existence and dying senseless deaths. Poverty and violence are just a few of the problems that make a devastating impression in my surroundings. It is due time that we face these issues and bring these truths to surface.
Dr. King was a great leader simply because that is exactly what he was created to do. Sometimes within the community, the only existing role models are negative ones (drug dealers, gang leaders, and exploiters of women), stereotypical ones (waiters, clerks, maids, and other blue collar workers), or unrealistic ones (professional athletes and pop singers.)
Financial instability is often a forerunner of poverty. But change can start with just one person. Ten wise words are, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” If you have no confidence in yourself, you are twice defeated in the race of life, but with confidence you have on before you have started.
Take advantage of the many opportunities offered in the university of life. Make it a habit to travel to different places as often as possible. Travel exposes us to new people, places, and ideas and different ways of life. Adding new words to one’s vocabulary can easily increase one’s capacity for self-expression. A Chinese proverb says:
Tell me and I’ll forget.
Show me and I’ll remember.
Involve me and I’ll understand.
Much of success in life will depend on our willingness to pursue the challenge and make God’s will the number one priority. When this is done, everything else will fall into place. If we recognize God in everything we do, God promises to direct our path.

I Have a Dream
America Must Change
by Natalie Branch

I can’t stand the way the youth today are being stereotyped but what saddens me the most is how we fit right into that stereotype. For instance, when people say that all African American people are violent and ignorant, we prove them right every day. We choose parties and friends over school, and we fight if you look at us wrong or just because. Every night I go to sleep and dream that one day the youth will wake up and realize that life is worth living. I dream that they would put their best foot forward and help relight the torch Martin Luther King, Jr. lit for us.

Free at last,
Free at last,
Thank God almighty
I’m Free at last.
Although we as a people have a long way to go to be truly free, we have grown a tremendous length from where we started. We can sit wherever we want on the bus, we can eat at any restaurant, and drink out of any water fountain we choose but we are still not free. But the majority of people living in poverty are African Americans. Why did we start from the bottom, skyrocket to the top, only to end up at the bottom again? Today’s youth has lost sight of that drive and ambition that our ancestors had. I, for one, think it is high time we bring it back.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
If we were to ask Martin Luther King, Jr. that very questions, he could give us 1001 answers and maybe more. If we were to ask today’s youth that question, you would get 10 answers. Today’s youth could help out in many ways. They could help elders up the church stairs. They can volunteer at Boys and Girls clubs. But many of today’s youth just doesn’t care. They’d rather play video games, fight, ditch school, and abuse their siblings. Ask yourself if this is the most persistent and urgent question in life. Then why is it that your son, daughter, niece, or nephew can only give so much as ten answers?

The hope of our childhood and the promises of our mature years are unfinished symphonies.
What this means to me is that you’ll never know where life is going to take you or how much is promised to you. What I do know is that we have to live our lives for God and our youth. Adults are sometimes the reason for these “I don’t care” youth because they don’t care and they teach their children not to care. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave every ounce of his being for his children and the youth. We adults and children need to help finish what he started.

Segregation or integration?
I fear that with the outstanding number of “I don’t care” youth our history or prejudice will repeat itself. Our race is at our weakest point because our children are our future and if the children don’t care then we have no future. I want to help change America but I cannot do it alone. Will you help me?