Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963.

Francis Miller/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images


Keeping the Dream Alive

Yolanda Renee King is following in the footsteps of her famous grandfather.

Yolanda Renee King never met her grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But the fifth-grader is one of countless activists who have been inspired by his actions. Dr. King spread a message of equality for all people, no matter what their race or color. He helped change the course of history.

Dr. King was a key leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, segregation was a way of life in many parts of the U.S., especially in the South. That meant black people were not allowed to go to the same schools or get treated in the same hospitals as white people. Plus, laws in some states kept many black people from voting. And a lot of businesses refused to hire black workers.

Dr. King led peaceful protests to demand equal rights for African Americans. He gave powerful speeches that led many others to join the cause. Sadly, Dr. King was shot and killed in 1968.

Scholastic News senior editor Karen Kellaher visited Yolanda at her home in Georgia. They talked about her grandfather’s work and how Yolanda is trying to change the world too.

Yolanda Renee King never met her grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But the fifth-grader is one of countless activists who have been inspired by his actions. Dr. King spread a message of equality for all people, no matter what their race or color. He helped change the course of history.

Dr. King was a key leader of the civil rights movement. This was in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, segregation was a way of life in many parts of the U.S., especially in the South. That meant black people were not allowed to go to the same schools as white people. They could not be treated in the same hospitals. Plus, laws in some states kept many black people from voting. Many businesses refused to hire black workers.

Dr. King led peaceful protests. He demanded equal rights for African Americans. He gave powerful speeches. His words led many others to join the cause. Sadly, Dr. King was shot and killed in 1968.

Scholastic News senior editor Karen Kellaher visited Yolanda at her home in Georgia. They talked about her grandfather’s work. They also talked about how Yolanda is trying to change the world too.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Yolanda Renee King (left) gives a speech at the March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018.

Scholastic News: When did you realize what your grandfather meant to so many people?

Yolanda King: I knew he was famous from the time I was little. But I didn’t really think about how important he was to the world. I just thought of him as my grandpa. Now that I’m older, I understand more.

Yolanda King: I knew he was famous from the time I was little. But I didn’t really think about how important he was to the world. I just thought of him as my grandpa. Now that I’m older, I understand more.

SN: Why was the work he did so important?

Yolanda: Back then, there were a lot of things that African Americans weren’t allowed to do. They were not even allowed to live in the neighborhood where I live now. Sometimes my friend and I talk about it. She’s white, and I’m black. If we were to travel back to the 1960s, we wouldn’t be able to be friends.

Yolanda: Back then, there were a lot of things that African Americans weren’t allowed to do. They were not even allowed to live in the neighborhood where I live now. Sometimes my friend and I talk about it. She’s white, and I’m black. If we were to travel back to the 1960s, we wouldn’t be able to be friends.

SN: Are you following in your grandfather’s footsteps?

Yolanda: In some ways I am. I am also making my own footsteps. I’m starting to give speeches. I spoke at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., about stopping gun violence. That’s an issue I care a lot about. I also want to help the homeless and protect the environment.

When I give speeches, I always end with a special chant. I ask people to repeat
the words after me. It goes like this:

Spread the word!
Have you heard?
All across the nation,
We are going to be
A great generation!

Yolanda: In some ways I am. I am also making my own footsteps. I’m starting to give speeches. I spoke at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., about stopping gun violence. That’s an issue I care a lot about. I also want to help the homeless and protect the environment.

When I give speeches, I always end with a special chant. I ask people to repeat the words after me. It goes like this:

Spread the word!
Have you heard?
All across the nation,
We are going to be
A great generation!

SN: What advice do you have for other kids?

Yolanda: A lot of people say, “Kids, you don’t need to worry about this stuff yet.” But I think kids can definitely make a difference. They can share their dreams with the world and help make their dreams happen.

I don’t like when people say, “That’s just how things are.” It’s a way of saying that nothing can be done to fix a problem. There’s always something you can do.

Note: The interview has been edited and condensed.

Yolanda: A lot of people say, “Kids, you don’t need to worry about this stuff yet.” But I think kids can definitely make a difference. They can share their dreams with the world and help make their dreams happen.

I don’t like when people say, “That’s just how things are.” It’s a way of saying that nothing can be done to fix a problem. There’s always something you can do.

Note: The interview has been edited and condensed.

1. Which details support the idea that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an influential leader?

2. How was life different for many African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s? Include specific examples.

3. How does the text structure of the interview differ from that of other nonfiction articles?

4. What issues are important to Yolanda Renee King? How is she making a difference?

1. Which details support the idea that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an influential leader?

2. How was life different for many African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s? Include specific examples.

3. How does the text structure of the interview differ from that of other nonfiction articles?

4. What issues are important to Yolanda Renee King? How is she making a difference?

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