See our Photo of the Week (and archive of more) books we recommend

Opinion Advertize Permission
To be notified of new articles Survey Store About Us
I Also Have A Dream

Gary Griffith, Jr.
Selma, Alabama

The following essay won second place in an essay contest for Selma high school students. The topic was Martin Luther King Day.

Selma has long been the site for racial issues, and it continues to be. Many famous civil rights leaders have come to this area, including the well-known Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. His accomplishments are still revered here by many. However, Selma is not completely free of racial discrimination and prejudice; it still exists in some areas. With community and family support, the dream of Dr. King can come true: Selma can be free of racial prejudice and discrimination.

Many people do not see the problems that are still here, but in my occupation, I travel the city a lot. and trust me, Selma is fraught with these racial problems, especially around the areas that are located near the private schools, where most of the whites in Selma reside. I have no doubt there is discrimination: I hear the people themselves, and I know they are discriminating.

I remember one sunny day I was working inside of a home about a mile and a half from the private schools. The subject of schools was brought up and the homeowner was asked. "Why don't you send your kids to the public schools?"

"I don't want my kids hanging 'round a bunch of niggers," the homeowner of the house quickly replied.

House after house I observed the same qualities of the people that live in that side of town. They are simply afraid to send their kids to the public schools. When they hear that I, a white 17-year old, go to Selma High School, they frown.

"What's wrong with that?" I ask them.

Nothing, they say. So they then assume I am a troublemaker because I am white and I attend a majority black school . I tell them my grades, and their jaw drops. . I know they are surprised to find out that there is a successful white teenager attending a school such as mine.

My dream is not unique: in fact it is very similar to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream: to stop the racial discrimination and prejudice. I believe that if the families and the community would work together, the public schools would not be all majority black, but an equal mixture. Families need not send their kids to private schools, for they are contributing to the problem. They are encouraging their kids to become discriminatory towards blacks. They need to send their kids to the public schools. Why not? The education is not any better at the private schools; it is only as good as the students themselves make it.

My dream for this community is to make Selma completely free of this unnecessary bias and discrimination. Everyone is equal: I am not better than any African-American, and they are not better than me. We are all equal in the eyes of God, and we should be equal in the eyes of everyone else. Selma, with community support, as well as family support, can free itself of these racial issues and become a lot closer to the society Dr. King envisioned.

Published in In Motion Magazine January 31, 1998.