Students submit bill for civil rights education

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Editor’s Note: One of Solid Ground’s staff members forwarded this note about the efforts of her 5th grade daughter, Kate, and her classmates to further education about civil rights and social justice. Makes you proud! She writes:

“My daughter is in a group at her school which studies the Civil Rights Movement and related topics during recess and lunch, and puts on an annual assembly. Their group is sponsoring a bill to encourage instruction in the history of civil rights in the state. The bill, SB 5174, is having a hearing today (before the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee) and they are participating by teleconference.”

Here is the letter the students sent to committee Chair Rosemary McAuliffe:

Dear Senator McAuliffe,

We are the MLK group at Madrona K-8 school in Edmonds. Our group formed in December 2009 to create an assembly for our school. Since then, our group has expanded. In learning about the Civil Rights movement, we researched Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, and we watched the movie of the Children’s march in Birmingham, AL. Then we listened to his “I Have a Dream” speech, and we wrote our own speeches and decided which ones would go into our play. Next we made a play with a news broadcast, and we shared this with the whole school at an assembly in Dr. King’s honor.

We took time outside of class to make this all happen, and we are sponsoring SB 5174 [Encouraging instruction in the history of Civil Rights].

Senator Chase introduced SB 5174 for us because we want to make sure kids know how to treat other people. We believe that people should know who changed the segregation laws in our country. We think we are lucky that we live in this time, and we have freedoms here. We think it is important to learn about places and times that don’t have the freedoms we share. If people don’t learn about the Civil Rights movement, people could take it for granted. This might lead to the same things happening again. We also learned that kids can make a difference, and we want other kids to know they can, too.

We would like a hearing for this bill and the opportunity to testify. If for some reason the hearing is at a time we can’t attend, we would like to watch it on TVW or perhaps a remote connection to the committee hearing from our school or Edmonds City Hall.

~Signed, Madrona School MLK Group, Judi MacRae, advisor,
and 32 4th through 6th graders

The bill would encourage school districts to “prepare and conduct a program at least once a year to commemorate the history of civil rights in our nation … and the importance of the fundamental principle and promise of equality in our nation’s Constitution.”

4 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SolidGround, Ken. Ken said: RT @SolidGround: Students from Edmonds draft legislation calling on school districts to do more civil rights education! […]

  2. The hearing was yesterday and several children (including Kate) answered questions. Senator McAuliffe stated that, for the first time in the 18 years she has been there, they would vote on it immediately – they did, and it passed. The children will be going to Olympia on February 23 to further lobby for passage.

  3. This has been a fascinating process. These students work outside of the school day- often missing recesses – to make this happen. They truly believe the Civil Rights education makes a difference and want to be a part of making a change for good. I’m very honored to work with them!

    • Thanks for commenting, Judi! Everyone I’ve mentioned this to has been really impressed by the students’ resolve and their success. We should all take our passions to Olympia more often!

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