Published: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 1:07 a.m.
Instead of watching cartoons early Saturday morning, about 100 children gathered inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center in Gainesville were they heard true stories of oppression, struggle and overcoming adversity.
They also learned about the civil rights movement, made arts and crafts, got a few health tips from a nutritionist and watched a talent show.
All were part of the 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Summit, which had a theme this year of "Bridging the Next Generation."
"We wanted more than for them to just sit down all day. We wanted them to have fun and burn some energy at the same time," coordinator Evelyn Foxx said. "That was what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was all about. He was about educating and having fun."
The crowd ranged from children barely walking to high school seniors.
Clad in a red T-shirt showing a picture of King etched in black, 7-year-old Brooksie McGraw said she discovered several new facts about the civil rights leader during the morning's arts-and-crafts session where she helped color a mural of him.
"I learned a lot about how Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader," said Brooksie while waiting in line outside for a cup of free hot chocolate.
The Flossie B. McLendon drill team and majorettes from Metcalfe Elementary opened the summit just after 8:30 a.m. with the posting of the flags.
"It is about fulfilling the dream and maintaining the legacy and then passing it on to the children," said Bernard Hicks, director of the drill team and majorettes. "We need more community activities to involve kids like this."
Foxx said they did not have the crowd they expected because of the cold, but "we are proud of the crowd that came."
Although chilling temperatures forced most of the activities inside, the children waited outside for free bicycle helmets and a chance to weave through a "bicycle rodeo" of orange cones to learn about bicycle safety.
Ten-year-old son Julius Shemwell was one of the many who braved the cold.
His father, Henry Shemwell of Gainesville, couldn't have been prouder.
"I am always looking for something to do with my son," he said, "and being able to educate him at the same time is wonderful."
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