Simple words capture ideal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Truly wonderful a child’s mind can be.

By BOB WHITE

Saturday, December 8, 2007 7:49 PM CST

JILL PICKETT/The News-Enterprise
Marcia Hall-Craig, director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, speaks Monday during the Hardin County Branch NAACP's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown.

That notion shone brightly during the Hardin County Branch NAACP’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday, when it was neither a minister’s fiery speech nor a cunning oration from a keynote speaker that drew the crowd’s spontaneous applause.

Instead of a well-rehearsed speech taking the crowd by surprise, it was a third-grader’s explanation of his poster depicting trees, dirt and flowers and how they symbolizing equality among humans that struck the audience.

The boy’s simple words said a whole lot.

“I used the flowers because we’re beautiful no matter where we come from,” declared the soft, but very clear young voice of Timothy Lever, a third-grade student at Kingsolver Elementary School.

His comments followed five other children’s poster explanations and preceded numerous essays and poems read aloud by students plus well-planned talks of older, highly educated professionals.

Each piece had special messages relating to King, equality and civil rights, but Lever’s comment simply and accurately pegged what an MLK Day is all about.

The crowd applauded with claps and even a holler or two even before Lever finished explaining his poster-board work of art.

Henry A. Williams, a former homeless Vietnam veteran from Pittsburgh who dropped in on the NAACP King Day event, smiled when he heard Lever’s comment.

“That’s what we need to do is to stop talking about color and start talking about people,” Williams said. “King did nothing more than speak God’s word and God only referred to people.”

Lever was among a dozen children and teens recognized for their work in discussing the program’s theme: “Race Does Matter.”

Unlike the other fine pieces of student work, Lever’s message that went along with his poster didn’t mention ethnic or racial differences, only beauty.

“Those young people haven’t been tainted yet,” Williams said of Lever’s age group. “Black people need to stop crying discrimination and white people need to stop giving to create special programs. ... God will provide for us all to be equal.”

Keynote speaker Marcia Hall-Craig, director for the Louisville office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, turned the theme around with a rhetorical question: Does race matter?

Hall-Craig offered up some answers for the audience to think about.

Race does matter when it comes to health and stigmas, but she fell short from saying race is a be-all end-all to anyone’s situation.

Instead, Hall-Craig said each person is responsible to respect others, listen, educate themselves and appreciate diversity.

Bob White can be reached at 505-1740, or at bwhite@thenewsenterprise.com.

This story, written by Bob White, was provided to One Knox courtesy of The News Enterprise. Read more stories from The News Enterprise at www.thenewsenterprise.com.