Moss Point students reflect on civil rights struggle

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX)

The Civil Rights fight for justice has been told in history books, movies, and even with music. But do young people really understand the purpose behind the movement? Moss Point students said they not only understand the past but are working to build a bigger, brighter future.
Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King adorn the Walls of Kerole Elementary in Moss Point, an inspiration for students here to dream big.
"A football player, artist, doctor, teacher," the students said, when asked about their dream career.
This group of high school students also echo that hunger for achievement. They said though they weren't born when so many black pioneers shed blood, sweat and tears for civil rights, the message still lives on.
"The people that inspired me the most are the people that were lynched, murdered and killed, but their names never went into the history book," Smith said. "These people didn't do what they did to be famous. They were truly fighting for civil rights."
Teen Caleb Smith said the lesson he learned from the movement is to practice love for all and not hatred.
"If you don't take a proactive attitude toward racism and civil rights, then 50 years down the road, we might be having another civil rights moment," Smith said. 
Teenager Chanler Booker admits it bothers him that so many in his own community don't appreciate the struggle.
"60 years ago, we would not all be sitting together, and we take that for granted today. A lot of people 60 and 70 years ago had to walk miles and miles just to go to school, my grandparents had to," Booker said. "Now we can just get up and ride a bus."
 That's why Booker strives to give back to his community by promoting literacy and making good grades to be a successful role model.
"We have to take advantage of this chance," Booker said.
Tolandra Keeton agrees and said the past has taught her the importance of loving the skin she is in.
"People are not confident within themselves," Keeton said. "They go into a job interview and say, I am not going to get the job because of this white person or this Mexican person was there, and it makes no sense."
These young people said they refuse to entertain negativity or let the message behind the movement die. They encourage others to honor the past by reaching for greatness in the future.
February 29 marks the last day of Black History Month, but throughout the year in our community and on WLOX we celebrate the achievements and milestones in South Mississippi.
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