Dear Ann: Forty-five years ago today, our world changed because one woman stood up for what she believed in by taking her seat at the front of the bus. Rosa Parks challenged America to honor its belief that all people are created equal, and she proved that individuals can change history. My father believed every person could follow Rosa Parks' example by taking action to create a better world.
Next month, young people across the country will have the opportunity to stand up for what they believe in by participating in the Do Something Kindness & Justice Challenge. Through the Challenge, students in grades K-12 perform acts of kindness (helping others) and justice (standing up for what's right) for two weeks in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday, between Jan. 15-26, 2001.
Each day during the Challenge, students learn the values taught by Rosa Parks and my father responsibility, compassion, nonviolence and moral courage and put these lessons into practice by performing positive acts in their homes, schools and neighborhoods. Students record the acts of kindness and justice they perform and post them on the Internet. Schools that perform 1,000 acts or more will receive special recognition. Students will also have the opportunity to receive grants for community service projects.
Every school in America is invited to participate. Teachers can register and obtain materials for the 2001 Do Something Kindness & Justice Challenge by writing to: Do Something, 423 W. 55th St., 8th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10019 (Attn: Kindness & Justice Challenge) or through the Internet at: http://coach.dosomething.org. Educators will receive a free guide with grade-appropriate curriculum that includes engaging daily activities, instructions for posting Acts of Kindness & Justice on the Internet, and incentives to encourage participation.
This past year, your column helped inspire more than three million students and 11,000 schools to participate in the Do Something Kindness & Justice Challenge, honoring my father's life and legacy by taking action to improve their communities. This coming year, I hope every student in America will participate.
Rosa Parks is one person whose courage challenged our entire nation to stand up for its beliefs and make our communities better places. Thank you for inspiring America's next generation to follow her example and help keep my father's dream alive. Sincerely, Martin Luther King III
Dear Martin Luther King III: I have been promoting the Kindness & Justice Challenge since 1998, and appreciate the opportunity to tell my readers once again about this outstanding and worthwhile program.
The Kindness & Justice Challenge encourages students of all ages to write down acts of kindness and justice and post them on the Internet. Students don't need to have their own computers. They can access the Internet through their schools. The acts of kindness can include simple things such as helping someone with the groceries, spending time with a senior citizen or picking up a piece of trash. Acts of justice can involve standing up for a classmate, refusing to help someone cheat on a test or telling someone not to litter.
This is the 45th anniversary of the day Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and launched a civil rights movement that changed our country. Teachers, I hope you will use my column as a basis for discussing this historic event with your students. And make sure to register today for the Kindness & Justice Challenge so your students can participate in this lasting tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.