Let Freedom Ring
LET FREEDOM RING -- a display of community & an affirmation of education...
The students were stoked, not because it was the last day of school before Christmas Break, but because that evening they would be participating in the 1st Annual Let Freedom Ring event. What was this magical evening you ask? Well...
In Partnership with Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy (our local partner elementary school), the South Chattanooga Youth & Family Development Center (the rec center where we worship and host serve+share), Oak Hills Neighborhood Association, and Alton Park/Piney Woods Neighborhood Association (of which somehow I am still the secretary), Bridge City Community hosted an invite-only dinner in order to:
… recognize the educational achievement of students in our neighborhood.
… hear presentations of the CDESA 5th Grade class in order to remember the dedication of individuals who fought for freedom and rights for all Americans – no matter the color of their skin.
… celebrate the community of south Chattanooga through the retelling of stories and a shared meal.
It was an experiment - an experiment to translate a lack of enthusiasm toward education into an affirmation of achievement and hard work. Never before (at least that any of us could think of) has a public school, city organization, and Christian church come together in such a meaningful way to impact the community and express a shared desire to encourage our overlooked and underserved youth.
Although the event was not required, nor credit for the assigned reports, we had almost every single student show up with their parents or guardians. In an of itself, this was a great victory for these children whose parents are often unengaged with their educational endeavors. The greatest achievement of the night, though, was the excitement, pride, and sense of accomplishment on the part of the students themselves who could not wait to take their place in front of the microphone. The glow on their faces, the shy smiles, and the puffed chests served to perpetuate the rhetoric of Dr. King - proclaiming boldly that freedom should still ring and we must remember those who sacrificed to make it reality, even if it is not yet completely realized.