Tuesday, February 17, 2015

School Children Reflect on the Life of Martin Luther King

Ambassador Entwistle (center) pose with students
and teachers who participated in the Essay
competition -- photo by Idika Onyukwu
February is celebrated as Black History Month in the United States to highlight the struggles and contributions of African-Americans to the country.  Activities are usually held in the United States and in various parts of the world during the month that focuses on different aspects of African-American life and especially those who have made significant contributions to their advancement.

In Abuja, the U.S. Embassy brought together secondary school students in the city to reflect and share their views about foremost American civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The event was organized in collaboration with the Foundation for Moral and Ethical Development and alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program.

As a run up to the general elections and particularly to encourage a violence-free process, the theme
of “Peaceful Elections and the Principles of Martin Luther King, Jr.” was chosen.  The students viewed a movie that reflected the journey of Dr. King and his nonviolence approach to the struggle for justice.  After the movie, a trivia contest between the various schools ensued in which the students showed the lessons learned from the movie.

The students’ perspectives on Dr. King showed they had taken the time to study the life of the great civil rights activist.  They explained that his life and principle of nonviolence has shown the world that with peace, goals can be achieved and violence is unnecessary.  They were touched by the way Dr. King used his intellect and ability to pursue the goal of equal rights for African Americans.
They described him as a man of courage, peace, integrity, and discipline, and as an inspiration to them that they can also influence their communities and nation to positive change in a peaceful manner.  The students also understood and stated that change should start from each person and spread to others.

First prize winner Lotanna Boc-Ifeobu (center)
with teacher Ken Nnamani receives prize from
Ambassador Entwistle - photo by Idika Onyukwu.jpg
U.S. Ambassador James F. Entwistle shared his experience of the civil rights movement as a young boy growing up in Montgomery Alabama.  He remembered African-Americans protesting in the streets for their right to vote.  He recalled the use of dogs and water hoses by security forces on protesters.  He noted that this struggle to exercise the right to vote highlights the importance of the civic duty, and he encouraged every eligible Nigerian to exercise this right.

The program included distribution of prizes to winners of an essay competition.  Lotanna Boc-Ifeobu of British Nigeria Academy emerged as the grand prize winner for which she was presented a Samsung Galaxy TAB  by Ambassador Entwistle.

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