By R.J. Nico
ATLANTA—Martin Luther King Jr.'s granddaughter hosted an inspiring group of children who called on their peers Saturday to follow the civil rights leader's example and engage in community outreach.
Three days after the 50th anniversary of King's assassination, about 200 people gathered at an Atlanta event hosted by Yolanda Renee King, 9, and Maryn Rippy, 7, the great-granddaughter of King's brother, A.D. King.
Child actors Hudson Yang from ABC's “Fresh Off the Boat” and Storm Reid from the film “A Wrinkle in Time” interviewed about a dozen featured guests from across the country.
The honorees included McKenzie Walker, a 14-year-old Dallas singer who used the proceeds from her CD to help orphans; Joshua Williams, a 17-year-old who has spent years leading food drives in South Florida; and Amariyanna Copeny, a 10-year-old girl who has earned the nickname “Little Miss Flint” because of the attention she has brought to the water crisis in her hometown of Flint, Michigan.
“Young people really have a lot of power,” said Margeaux Drucker, 12, who, along with her younger brother, teaches her peers about the lessons of the civil rights movement. “We can be the change we want to see in the world.”
A.J. Carr, 15, is an actor on Showtime's “The Chi” who two years ago founded a youth leadership and entrepreneurship organization called “Building Bosses,” in Madison, Wisconsin.
Carr challenged the audience, especially the adults, to reach out to young people who might appear lost.
“Tell them, `Hello, how are you doing? Do you need anything?' Because that could be the only compassion they've ever felt in their life,” Carr said.
One of the audience members, Nia McKenzie, 14, of nearby East Point took a photo with Carr after the event. After hearing Carr's and the other guest's stories, McKenzie said she felt “inspired to take action.”
“He's is around my age and doing a lot to help people in his community, so I feel like I can do that too,” McKenzie said.
Two of the civil rights icon's children, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, also were in attendance and praised the commitment to social justice on display.
King III pointed out that high school students held an important role in spearheading the civil rights movement decades ago.
“It is exciting to see these young people not following, but leading,” King III said, citing the recent gun-control march led by the survivors of a Florida high school shooting. “This is an interesting time: Some might say we're divided, but yet somehow we're coming together.”
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