Here are Three Youth Reflections for MLK Day

Jan. 22, 2019 / By

Youth entries were originally featured at our network home site,

Everything He Said, He Lived

By Yesenia Pacheco, 17, Long Beach Poly

Yesterday, we had no school and for a lot students that meant sleeping in and watching endless hours of Netflix originals. But there is a name behind this “no school Monday.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., born Michael King, was an activist, minister, and leader of the civil rights movement. He is not only an icon of his decade, but forever a symbol of peace and equality. He is an inspiration to anyone who has ever heard of him and a personal hero of mine, one of my most favorite people.

During the civil rights movement, the black community demanded equality and were prepared to get that equality by any means; they were through being treated as less than and would not be silenced. However, the people were divided on how to achieve that equality.

There was Malcolm X, who, at an earlier point in his life, spoke of hate and violence. Fighting fire with fire will simply destroy the forest. King always understood this first.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to me, is the bigger man because I know that he had to have considered or at least been tempted by violence; he had to have known that the more he preached about peace, the more danger he was getting himself into. But he still chose peace.

Everything he said, he lived and he meant it all. There was nothing but hope and love living inside him. Every time he spoke he spoke with grace and intelligence. He spoke about acceptance, togetherness and unity. He was a beautiful man with a beautiful mind and with a dream, a dream that should have come true by now and a dream that he will never witness.

He knew he himself wouldn’t see peace, but he wasn’t fighting for his own rights, but for everyone else’s rights and for his family. He knew he was going to die before it all came true and he accepted that. Nobody deserves to die, but I believe in my heart that this man did nothing but offer his companionship in exchange for being treated like a decent human being and they couldn’t even do that.

More should be done to honor him. If we all shared his mindset for just one day, we would all prosper. I’m a better person today because of all he did then. I encourage everyone to at least try to channel his mindset for one day out of the year. The whole world would be better for it.

Peace and Prosperity Beyond Compare

by Alvin Engo, 18, Cabrillo High School

When those bridges on Selma were crossed, it was a turning point for the battle for civil rights. To secure liberty for all regardless of the color of their skin. Dr. King was always at the spear, risking life and limb, so that everyone can have peace and prosperity beyond compare. Despite stalling, subversion and filibustering in the Senate and House, Dr. King and many others stood against all, fighting for every inch of freedom through hard fought battles and the infamous Bloody Sunday.

So many lives were lost all for the rights of all humans.  This loss included Dr. King’s own life when he was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. Days later, public outrage turned to riots in the streets, turning Dr. King into a martyr for future generations to come. Even now, his words echoes on foreign lands, printed and distributed to the disenfranchised. Just as Dr. King fought for the chants of equality, he proclaimed “Let freedom ring” and ring it did. His words of protest still linger on as one of the benchmarks for civil disobedience, a symbol of liberty and to fight for the people, come what may. King would always tell his supporters to keep fighting the good fight. And as the struggles continues, King’s spirit of action remains.

We Honor Our Leaders Through Action

By Georgina Sandoval, 26, Long Beach resident

Martin Luther King Jr. day is more than a federal holiday, more than time off from school or work; it’s an opportunity to reflect on one of the world’s most compelling advocates for civil rights. Until the end of his life in 1968, King fought for the cessation of racial discrimination on both the state and federal level.

Before you ask yourself: “Well, what good is it to ruminate in history?” King said, in his Birmingham Jail letter, there are a couple different steps to take when fighting for equality, but we can focus on the first one: collect the facts to identify whether injustices are present. Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police and of those police-involved in shootings, 98% will not be charged with a crime, according to a Washington Post study.

This is happening today. It is happening in your community. This MLK day, think about the ways you can get involved to end the racial discrimination that is very clearly not in our past—just like the contributions of the Martin Luther King Jr.


VoiceWaves is a Long Beach youth-led journalism and media-training project. The youth, ages 16-24, are learning to report, write, and create digital journalism content. Their reports will raise awareness of community health issues and activate change.