In the city where Martin Luther King described his dream of equality in America, a group of African-American students from South Junior High School recently learned how they could help carry out that vision.
Darrick Doleman, a South ninth-grader who participated in the program, said organizers of the Nguzo Saba Tour 1992 stressed their message in a number of different ways.
"We went to a lot of seminars, where black professionals talked and told us about staying in school," said Darrick, 15, who returned to Lawrence on Oct. 3. "The message was that if you stay in school, pick a career and stay with it, there's really nothing you can't do."
Darrick said that during the nine-day tour, which was designed to encourage academic achievement, participants ate most meals in restaurants owned and operated by black people. During those meals, he said, proprietors talked to participants about the importance of school.
Asked what he would remember most from the tour, Darrick said: "Probably that I should stay in school and study hard."
"They said that if you study hard now, it'll pay off in the end," he said. "They told us it's time to start preparing now for things we want to do. A lot of us only have a few years left in school."
Besides hearing speakers, he said, participants also saw sights such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House.
Darrick said his favorite memory was being in the audience of the Black Entertainment Television talk show "Teen Summit."
Normally, he said, the show features a single topic and one guest.
But when the tour passed through, he said, there was an open forum. Darrick said he got a chance to answer a phoned-in question.
"A guy called in and said he and his best friend weren't seeing much of each other because his friend had a new girlfriend," Darrick said. "I said he and his friend could have time set apart when they could do things together and that his friend and his girlfriend should set time apart for themselves."