Calls for peaceful conflict resolution and acceptance of others' differences rang loud and clear Tuesday for students at Moraine Elementary in Northville as the Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed students.
The civil rights leader, who was a friend of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke Wednesday at an assembly in the school's gymnasium, where he engaged the young students with stories about his efforts in the civil rights movement and shared his tips for becoming a leader.
For the students, it was an eye-opening history lesson during Black History Month from one of the nation's most prominent public figures.
"I think children living in this time don't understand what separate was like living in the '60s," Moraine Principal Dr. Denise Bryan said. "Just having somebody here who was such a figure at that time helped them understand."
The Rev. Jackson told students Dr. King would be proud to see such a diverse group of students in one setting, but acknowledged there's still plenty of work to be done to fully realize Dr. King's dream.
The civil rights leader's appearance tied in with Moraine Elementary's school-wide "The Leader in Me" program, which nurtures students' leadership skills, Northville Public Schools Superintendent Mary K. Gallagher said.
While the Rev. Jackson has been a prominent figure in the political arena, his remarks Tuesday were apolitical and instead focused on promoting leadership, acceptance and nonviolence to students during his appearance, at several points imploring the children in attendance to repeat his calls to "stop the violence" and "save the children."
"The messaging we will reinforce from the Rev. Jackson is peaceful conflict resolution, learning to get along together, accepting differences, solving problems peacefully and make connections to 'The Leader in Me' work in the decisions we all make every day to keep one another safe," Gallagher said.