Remembering Dr. King and marching on for educational equality
By Vincent Lyles
President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee
I’m Vincent Lyles, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. Welcome to my new column in the Milwaukee Courier. With more than 35,000 five to 18 year olds walking through the doors of our 36 Boys & Girls Clubs locations each year, I see first-hand how prevalent issues in our community are impacting our children. Twice a month, through this column, I’ll be writing about ways we can address these issues to make life better for all of us, starting with our youngest citizens.
On January 21, millions celebrated the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday. During my personal reflections about Dr. King, I recalled how he and others advocated for African-Americans to have the same political, social, economic and educational rights, privileges and opportunities. Although there have been many strides made in the civil rights movement thanks to their efforts and sacrifices, much more work remains to be done such as seeking equality in education.
Today’s young people are not just competing with others in the same city or state, but with their peers around the globe. To receive a good education, it requires more than attending a school with well-trained teachers, up-to-date textbooks, computers and other learning resources. It also requires having children who are ready to learn and who also have the support systems in place to help them succeed.
As adults, we can help achieve this by planting the seeds of good study skills. The earlier study skills are introduced, the more a child practices them consistently and makes them part of his or her behavior. For instance, at Boys & Girls Clubs, the first hour after school is known as “Power Hour.” Club members get a jump start on their homework. Club staff members and volunteers are there to offer help with assignment questions. Also during Power Hour, Boys & Girls Clubs provides learning activities such as grade level math or reading worksheets for those members who do not have any homework. The goal is to help children develop a regular set-aside time for doing homework. It’s a study skill they can use all the way through high school and college.
The establishment of good study skills, along with making sure all children are ready to learn and have positive support systems in place, will help bridge the gap of educational equality. It’s a formula that has produced thousands of African-American college graduates who are making advances in all sectors of society as our next generation of leaders. Let’s continue to keep Dr. King’s dream alive, and champion for the educational equal rights for our children so all of America may gain.