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Youth recognize civil rights leader's influence (w/video)

By JR Ortega
Jan. 19, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 19, 2014 at 7:20 p.m.


Fifty-one years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood atop the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech.

King's "I Have A Dream" speech transcended time and changed lives of not only those who lived through the civil rights movement but also that of today's youth.

Students at Dudley Elementary G.T. Magnet School spend some of their year learning about the movement and how things once were, said principal Diane Billo.

"It is incorporated across the grade levels," she said.

Understanding the importance of diversity for any school is important, Billo said, but Dudley has a special stake in taking pride in that diversity.

Last year, the school celebrated its 50-year anniversary and took a look at the school's roots. The school was named after Dr. Charles A. Dudley, a black physician who - like King - fought for equality.

Dudley had a firm hand in the civil rights movement, helping establish the George Washington Carver Civic Council, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

He even worked closely with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's attorney Thurgood Marshall, who later became a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice.

Showing how King and Dudley were alike really helps enrich the students' sense of belonging and understanding, Billo said.

"They are amazed that things like (segregation) happened," she said. "They're in awe that there was a time when those freedoms weren't freedoms."

To better understand how students understand King, the Advocate put 12 Dudley fifth-graders to the test by showing them a photo of King and asking who the man in the photo was and why he is important.

Each student got the answer right.

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