In this world live whites, blacks, Asians and Hispanics. We are a variety of people. Where do you think we would be if people discriminated based on people’s skin tone?

That has happened before and it is still happening. Imagine you’re in a black person’s body, walking on the streets. It’s a sunny day, and it’s peaceful. Here comes a car that drives near you, and you see someone roll down the window.

You hear negative comments like, “Go back to your country,” or “you slaves.” How would you feel? What would you do? What would you say? What would have happened if Martin Luther King Jr. never gave his speech? What if no one spoke up for his or her rights?

People in the community now are all quiet. They witness something and don’t say a word. People don’t see what is happening in the community. Everyone is in so-called “neighborhood gangs.”

Nobody is talking to each other because “she said this” and “she did that” or “he looks like that.”

Nobody is seeing the struggles of the youth. You’re older now, and there is life that you’ve lived, but the new generation of kids is coming soon. Don’t you want them to not go through what you went through?  You want them to feel safe in the community. Every mom or dad wants their child to go to the playground and not have to worry about them getting hurt.

What comes to mind when you hear the word community? Community is a place where people live, do things together, work, play, eat, have fun and talk about their problems and come up with a solution.

Why can’t this happen now? Why is it such a problem for a community of people to get together and talk about the struggles they face or see? What is holding back the people from uniting?

You need to stop staying in your house and get up and know your neighbors, know their problems, organize a meeting and do something that shows you care.

Don’t be quiet! Say something; talk, laugh, figure out the problem. Just remember, you’re all the same no matter how light or dark you are.

At the end of the day, you’re equal.

– Sahro Attor, 14,

Kennedy Park


I want to see changes in our community, like helping and respecting each other more than we do now. It shouldn’t be everyone for themselves or first come, first serve like a battlefield – not caring what the person next to you feels but caring only about yourself.

People should try to get along.We should be helping each other more so we can get through the struggles of life together as a community.

Everyone should do their part in making the community a better place. Participation is a huge part in growing a great community because, if not many people participate, how are we ever going to achieve our goals as a community?

We can start with little things such as having a neighborhood litter cleanup day, or making a community garden. We can rise step by step, making our work more memorable.

But whatever we are doing, we should be glad to do it as a community. Because even though we all have different races, backgrounds and ethnicities, we should always remember what Martin Luther King Jr. said:  That “strength in a community lies in differences not on similarities.”

Martin Luther King fought for rights for all men and women of all skin colors all around America. But how did he do it? He used the method of uniting people; the same way a majority of great leaders do to get what they want to make this world a better place.

And how did that work out for them? They gained success over all odds and won the rights people deserved. And I say we use the same strategy those great leaders used. Not to get something we want, but to bring people together so we can be successful over all odds.

– Abdul Mohamed,

sixth grade, Kennedy Park


If I had the power to change my community, I would make it safer and more welcoming to other people who want to live here. 

They would not have any trouble with their neighbors because they are of different colors. I would try to act peacefully like Martin Luther King did by speaking out loud and not letting problems get bigger until it affects the whole community. 

I would bring my community together with food; we could all come together and have a party.

Everyone would bring different foods from their country, and we would be able to share the experiences of other cultures.

– Ahmed Ali, 12,

Kennedy Park


Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a man, he was a king.  Mr. King defeated racism because he had a dream.

I am thankful for Mr. King because I can now attend public school every day.  I am free to go to the Root Cellar and the study center, and I have a mix of friends who are black and white.  

I go to Burlington Coat Factory to get clothes. If it weren’t for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I might not be able to shop at the same stores as white people. I wouldn’t even be in Portland now if it weren’t for him. I would be in Africa. Martin believed in freedom. Thank you Martin!

– Akual Majok, 9,

Kennedy Park


I love my community because I have the freedom to wear my hijab and my skirt. 

I also have the freedom to fight for myself.  I love my community because sometimes my country helps with food and money, and sometimes people help people I love. 

My community has white people and black people and Somali people.  We all live together.

– Ridwana Attor, 8,

Kennedy Park


What I want to be when I grow up is a computer programmer. The reason why I want to be a computer programmer is because at home I mostly stay on the computer, and once I fixed my computer when it had a virus.

The challenges I see being a computer programmer is that you have to spend most of your time on the computer. To advance as a programmer you must learn languages like this c- boot system operation and c section, so I must do well in school, like giving 100 percent, which I think I do not really do well.

The barriers I am to face or roadblocks are that you have to know some advanced computer languages that you sometimes have to stay in college for six years to learn. The way I can reach my goals is I have to do well at school, study harder and possibly get straight A’s.

If you were to compare my life to Martin Luther King Jr.’s life it would be a lot different. Martin was an important part in my life and history even though I never saw him and didn’t know about him until I was 8 years old.

When I go to school, I wouldn’t go to a public school because of segregation in that year, which I think was around 1967. The people who were in charge would kick me out because I was black. 

My dream would not even be possible to be a computer programmer at that time because of racist people, so my life would be different without Martin Luther King Jr. My life is different all because of one person who made a difference.

– Ayub Mohamed, 11,

Kennedy Park


What I like about my community is the study center.  I like the study center because they help me with reading. I need to learn how to read to go into the second grade.

I love my friends and family.  They are a part of my community too. I like them because they invite me on play dates. My friends like me a lot. They make me happy.

Portland Housing also helps me and my family. They help fix things like the pipes and leaks in my house. They keep my family safe, and that makes me feel good.

– Maureen Fitzgerald, 7,

Kennedy Park


My life is different than my mother’s when she was in school in Sudan. When she was young, she got hit when she talked in school.  She also didn’t have a playground.

Now I have the freedom to go to the playground. I also have the freedom to go to other places. In Sudan, my mother was not allowed to go out without telling her mom and dad, but now I can go out without telling my mom and dad, and they don’t worry. 

In Sudan, my mother wasn’t allowed to be bad in school. By coming to America and with the help of Martin Luther King, I have the freedom to talk in school without being hit. I can go to the playground with my sister and brother.

– Joyce Augustino, 9,

Kennedy Park


I like my community because they help me.  The study center is a part of my community, and they help me with my homework.  Janelle works with the police, and she gives me snacks and keeps the community safe. 

My family tells me to wear a hijab and skirt, and I have the freedom to do that.  I am happy that I have the freedom to go to school with my black friends and white friends.  My friends are all colors.

– Maryama Attor, 9,

Kennedy Park


What I like best about my community is a lot of different people get to live here. 

This is because Martin Luther King changed the rules with his dream of blacks and whites being friends.

We all live together. We can go to the same schools, stores, eat at the same restaurants.  I can sit anywhere I want on the bus.

– Nyabuay Thok, 7,

Kennedy Park