Students Learn of Black Heroes; Mrs. King, in Death, Steps to Front of March of Icons in U.S. History

Article excerpt

Byline: Gary Emerling, Tarron Livelyand Arlo Wagner, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Demario Ford quietly set aside his routine social studies homework yesterday to express his thanks to Coretta Scott King, who helped solidify civil rights in the United States and around the world.

"Thank you for stepping up and carrying the African-American burden on your back and never letting it go," Demario, 12, wrote in his elegy to Mrs. King, who died Tuesday.

"Even if it was a very hard challenge, thank you for getting it done."

Demario and his roughly 30 other seventh-grade classmates at Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Northwest are among thousands of area students who will learn and write about Mrs. King during Black History Month.

Mrs. King, the wife of Martin Luther King, died at the Santa Monica Health Institute in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, after a long illness. She was 78. King is considered the most important civil rights leader in U.S. history. He was assassinated in 1968.

As Demario's teacher, Darlene Young, strolled from desk to desk asking students to name characteristics that define Mrs. King's legacy, hands flew up from all corners of the classroom.oThomas caught a train shortly after the contest to make her shift at a Burger King on Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.As Demario's teacher, Darlene Young, strolled from desk to desk asking students to name characteristics that define Mrs. King's legacy, hands flew up from all corners of the classroom.As Demario's teacher, Darlene Young, strolled from desk to desk asking students to name characteristics that define Mrs. King's legacy, hands flew up from all corners of the classroom.om.

"Equality," one student said.

"Friendship," another answered.

"Pride," said one more.

The King family holds a special significance at Holy Redeemer, where 98 percent of the students are black and half use vouchers to attend the school, just one block from the hardscrabble Sursum Corda housing community.

Many students come from troubled backgrounds and broken homes. Some said they draw strength from Mrs. King's determination to carry on her husband's vision of equality and a country free of segregation and racial violence.

"If she wouldn't have supported his dream, the dream would have been over," said Javon Cox, 13. …