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Students, Residents Celebrate King's Message

Landing kids launch "Dreams for Peace" balloons; residents march, gather for ceremony celebrating harmony of differences.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian man with a Christian message, but his mission had a greater scope than religion, said Rev. Roger C. Williams of First Baptist Church.

"It had more to do with making America the democracy she said she was," Williams told a crowd at Finley Middle School's Wunsch Center after the city's parade in honor of the Civil Rights leader.

King's legacy was less about furthering the standing of his own race in America than it was about advancing the integrity of a nation that has struggled to deliver its promise of inalienable rights, Williams explained.

With a preacher's impassioned diction, Williams explained that diversity should be recognized and celebrated rather than ignored. He used crayons as a metaphor to illustrate the point.

"Diversity is saying yes, I see the differences, and the red crayon doesn't bring the same things as the green crayon does. But together they create a beautiful picture," he said.

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Landing Elementary School students used their crayons to make several art projects they displayed Friday at an assembly commemorating the holiday.

To kick off the assembly, students launched balloons representing each class. The balloons contained small pieces of paper on which students had written their own dreams for peace, their first names and the school's contact information. The balloons would reach a certain altitude and pop, falling to the ground for people to find and read the kids' thoughts.

“We are literally launching balloons filled with thoughts from the kids,” interim principal Martin Malone said. “I hope the students realize how they can personally contribute to world peace. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech began with the idea of a dream that he had. Obviously, he had a major effect on our world, and we think we can do the same thing.”

Third-graders crafted large letters spelling "Peace," each decorated with their traced handprints. Others made a PowerPoint presentation on peace in everyday life.

A group of fourth-graders held eggs and a sign that said, "We are all the same." They dropped the eggs in a symbolic smashing of discrimination and hatred.

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