North Texas students attend "virtual fireside chat" about Martin Luther King's legacy

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Students from across North Texas attended several virtual events Monday to mark Martin Luther King Day. The organization, Teach for America, set up a series of activities for students and families.

Sarah Walker, the former president of the Tarrant County Black Historical Society, held a "virtual fireside chat," answering students' questions about the civil rights movement.

"I would want them to do just like we did, surround themselves with those who came before us," Walker says. "That's how we learned."

With an increase in White supremacist activity and cases like George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis last year after he was arrested when a store clerk said he used a counterfeit $20 bill, Walker says King's legacy is more important than ever.

"We've already experienced what they are experiencing now," she says. "It was God's way of catching everybody's attention at the same time."

Walker says the fireside chat could also help kids learn the impact African Americans have had on the growth and development of North Texas and Fort Worth.

"Ennis Avenue and Terrell Avenue that intersect were the mechanism that helped Fort Worth get to the point that it is today," she says. "All of the doctors, the lawyers, the teachers lived on the Southside. Lionel Cooper was the first Black policeman in the City of Fort Worth. He lived on this street. Hazel Harvey Peace, the vice president over at I.M. Terrell lived in this community. She's not just a name on a building."

Peace's name is on a community center near I-35W and Rosedale.

"Martin Luther King Jr. possessed some of the very same qualities Booker T. Washington had which were 1.) Believing in yourself, 2.) Placing value on education and 3.) Backing that belief in yourself up with persistence," says Louie McClain, founder of the publishing company, Melanin Origins.

McClain gave kids access to books "about diverse characters learning important lessons."

McClain and Walker spoke during a virtual event on lessons learned from the civil rights movement organized by Teach for America. Kids from Fort Worth ISD's My Brother's Keeper and other local districts attended.

"I encourage you all to be persistent in your pursuits," McClain says. "I mean follow after your heart and chase your dreams. You have beautiful ideas which are going to make the world a better place. When I say, 'value education,' I need you to understand your teachers are sent to you as messengers of grace to teach you how to master the elements of the earth and master yourself and everything that's out there. You have to believe in yourself."

The events also included a virtual field trip to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.