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Clay County schools remember MLK

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Teachers in Clay Community Schools took the opportunity Monday to teach students about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While no schools we called were doing anything as a whole, nearly all classes were using the holiday occasion to discuss King's life and teachings.

East Side Elementary 5th graders plan to see an Indianapolis production about ballplayer Jackie Robinson today.

By The Associated Press

In Muncie and Evansville, people marched in stinging cold to recreate the 1963 March on Washington.

In the Wabash Valley Correctional Center, inmates clapped and sang along to gospel music performed by area choirs and musicians.

Around Indiana, people of different colors found varying ways to honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr.

Hundreds of people turned out at the Murat Centre on Monday for a community festival in honor of the holiday. The crowd included blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics and men and women of all ages.

"The cultural mix here today is exactly what we wanted," said Jose Evans, executive director of the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, one of the event's sponsors.

"We want people to go away believing Dr. King's vision is still alive and active today. And I think that is very evident here," he said.

In Muncie, where city officials' rejection of a proposal to rename a street for King stirred controversy last year until a federal mediation agreement was reached, about 30 people marched from City Hall to Christ Temple, where they joined more than 300 others.

"I think this is symbolic of what Dr. King stood for," said Mayor Dan Canan. "It is people working for the betterment of society."

Hundreds joined another march in Evansville, braving bitter cold and snow flurries along the route from the University of Evansville to the C.K. Newsome Center near downtown.

At the Newsome Center, officials demonstrated the use of two of Vanderburgh County's new electronic voting machines, echoing the voting rights battles of the 1960s.

Inmates at the Wabash Valley Correctional Center about 30 miles south of Terre Haute joined in song and listened to sermons Saturday as part of a 5-year-old King Day celebration.

Inmate Jesse Wright III of Muncie said the program was inspirational.

"It gives us hope and lets us know there is still a lot of positive things going on in this world. It also lets us know that we aren't forgotten," he said.

Glancing around at the faces in the prison gymnasium, the Rev. Bill Breeden of Bloomington's Unitarian Universalist Church said he believes the criminal justice system has a problem with racial bias.

"The system needs reform," he said. "There are a lot of nice people who work in the system, but if Martin Luther King were alive today I think he would be calling for reform."

Speakers and programs elsewhere challenged listeners to honor King's memory by working for change in their communities.

At Valparaiso University, the King Day events include more than 50 focus sessions and speeches on the theme, "The Power of One ... Together We Can Make a Difference."

During a session sponsored by Habitat for Humanity, participants in "The Game of Life" were forced into stereotypical roles such as homeless or wealthy, designed to simulate how class distinctions influence life.

"The whole idea is to be treated equally. That's what Martin Luther King stood for. But America isn't as equal as it's supposed to be," said Anna Krenzke, a junior who played the game.

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