A generation of change

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Throughout the many years and decades since his death, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been recognized in innumerable ways in thousands of places.

But we think it’s especially appropriate that the biggest annual events here in Suffolk in recent years have honored King’s legacy by celebrating young people and preparing them for a life of service.

In his most famous speech, delivered at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, King recognized the importance of young people. He said, “I have a dream that one day … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

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He saw children as the future. He knew they were the changemakers and the ones who would carry on his legacy.

And even today, we look to future generations as the ones who can continue to make this world better than they found it.

At the annual Suffolk City-Wide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, young people are honored each year as they receive awards for an essay contest, open to sixth- to 12th-grade students in Suffolk Public Schools. This year, De’Ryan Artis, a Lakeland High School senior, was the first-place winner. He read in his essay, “Members of the community must come together to be the change that is needed for progress. As a member of my community, though I am young, I hope to form mentoring groups for children, volunteer more within the community, and host or promote character-building events.”

Artis, himself still a young person, also sees children and young people as the way forward. That’s something to celebrate.

Over at the sixth annual S. Delois Mayes Scholarship Foundation Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Benefit Brunch, funds raised benefit Suffolk students with scholarships, also helping to further promote our youth and give them the means to make a difference.

As our nation continues to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., may we continue to raise up a generation of which King would have been proud.