Students focus on community service, learn of social injustices on MLK Day

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While many students had the day off from school for the holiday some put themselves to work.

Instead of an empty school building on this Martin Luther King holiday, the gym at Christ The King College Prep in Austin was bustling with activity.

Nearly 150 young people worked on different service projects, while focusing on the history of social injustices.

Some of the projects included assembling care packages of winter essentials for the homeless.

The event was organized by BUILD, a social service organization that engages at-risk youth and helps them reach their full potential.

"When you become an adult and have your own families, what can you say you gave back to the community," said Ebonee Porche.

The students learned about the legacy of Dr. King and the risks of fighting for equality through re-enacting the arrest of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery bus boycott, and sitting at a segregated lunch counter.

"They were going to be spit on, they were going to get water poured on them, flour, called out their names; and they had to maintain a peaceful composure," one volunteer explained to the students.

It was a hard lesson for 13-year old Daniel Brown.

"It seems hard not to be able to go to a restaurant because of the color of your skin, or they say this is a whites only restaurant and you can't be fed here," Brown said.

The day also started off with a peace march from BUILD's office in Austin, taking the students through the streets to the school. Once they arrived, the students were tasked with updating King's "I have a dream" speech to address current social injustices, like sex trafficking.

"Everybody knows there's sex trafficking out there and I feel like everyone should be aware; and to the parents out there, I just want the parents to teach your kids education in the house in case there was in that situation," Shawntees Shanklin said.

Participants put together roughly 250 bags of supplies that will be taken to a homeless shelter on the city's West Side. It serves as a gesture that organizers say they hope will inspire young people to continue to be of service throughout the year.
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