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Meaning of Dr. King's Life to People Over the World

January 31, 1987

That the life and commitment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has meaning for people from all over the world was powerfully brought home to me one evening.

I teach English as a second language at Evans Adult School and had given the students a short piece about the life of Dr. King. We had discussed his beliefs and talked about the presence of discrimination in the United States and their experience of prejudice in the countries from which they had come.

We then heard a tape of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Although the students probably only understood a portion of it, there was silence in the room as each student followed carefully the text of the speech.

We then returned to our lesson of the evening. A short time later, the eldest gentleman in the class, a 63-year-old man from El Salvador raised his hand. He rose and asked the class (70 adults from 15 different countries) if they would offer a moment of silence in honor of Dr. King. He said that Dr. King meant a great deal, not only to people in the United States, but also in many countries of the world. He then beckoned the class to stand; the students rose, and for one minute we stood in complete silence. After the minute passed, we resumed the lesson.

Such sensitivity, such dignity and such respect--certainly an experience that I, the only native-born person in the room, will never forget.

MARILYN T. SCHAFER

Los Angeles

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