Youngsters at West Elementary in Gulfport are practicing for an upcoming musical as part of Black History Month. The spirituals are a big part of African-American heritage and their struggle for equality. As the students sing, they also learn about Dr. Martin Luther King's fight for civil rights.
"We're trying to teach them how a wonderful man that he was, and just that freedom is a very important thing and we shouldn't take it for granted," teacher Jennifer Scrimpshire said.
Students are also learning about Dr. King's legacy through art. It seems the children have a clearer picture now of the man they've only heard or read about in the history books.
"He was a great man," fifth grader Joel Johnson said. "He fought for racism and he started the movement, and he died April 4, 1968."
"He was a good man, and he changed our lives," second grader Ericka Shaw said.
The walls of the school are also decorated with essays, focusing on Dr. King's legacy. Many students wrote about why they think Dr. King is a national hero.
2nd Graver Sara Stephens read from her journal: "He was black. He had to stand on a bus, but he did not fight. He never fought with this hands, he always fought with his mind."
The official Martin Luther King Holiday is Monday, January 21.