NEW YORK -- In 1963, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he had a dream of racial equality. But Dr. King had more than one dream, and his message went well beyond a plea for racial equality. In recognition of Black History Month, and in honor of the 25th year we've celebrated Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee focuses on what else the man said -- and dreamed -- and what it might mean to kids in this, the second decade of the 21st century, in Beyond I Have a Dream, premiering Sunday, Feb. 13, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.
"Kids sometimes tell us all they know, all they're taught, is that he was the 'I have a dream guy.' And he was, but that's not all he was," said Ellerbee. "For instance, Dr. King said, 'Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.' Well, there are some smart, strong kids out there planting their own apple trees. These are some of their stories."
Each segment begins with a quote from Dr. King that does not come from his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. They may be completely new to kids. Or not.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." In Will's case, it's not about standing up; it's sitting down for the rights of others. This kid from West Fork, Ark., refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at school because he doesn't believe there is yet "liberty and justice for all" due to legal discrimination against gays and lesbians. Although he's not gay, he points out that one must not be black to speak for black rights, nor female to speak for women's rights. And he's willing to suffer the consequences for following his conscience.
"Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals." Vanessa, of Portland, Ore. is a U.S. citizen, and an immigrant rights activist who worked to pass the "DREAM Act," which would grant citizenship to undocumented kids if they spend two years in college or the military. The law passed the House, but was defeated in the Senate. Vanessa, understanding what Dr. King meant, has not given up.
"Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?" For Brian from Alameda, Calif., Dr. King's quote is all about service. Although Brian notes that as a teenager, he doesn't have money, what he does have is the energy and will to work for the food bank, entertain at senior citizen homes and encourage other kids to join him in a program he began called "Youth Reaching Out."
"Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love." In New Orleans, La., some kids from neighborhoods where gang activity and violent crime are as common as corner stores, and crossing neighborhood boundaries can put your life on the line, have begun to come together…to make music. Dr. King would definitely have understood the Roots of Music Marching Band. And he would have understood the words of Sola, a 15-old New Orleans girl who ends our show with these words, "You're here not to just sit on your butts and do nothing. That's why we still celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King. He was like the flicker, and we're gonna be the flame."
Nick News, produced by Lucky Duck Productions, enters its 20th year in 2011 and is the longest-running kids' news show in television history. It has built its reputation on the respectful and direct way it speaks to kids about the important issues of the day. Over the years, Nick News has received more than 20 Emmy nominations and recently won its eighth Emmy Award for The Face of Courage: Kids Living with Cancer for Outstanding Children's Nonfiction Program. Additional Emmy wins for outstanding children's programming include: Coming Home: When Parents Return from War (2009); The Untouchable Kids of India (2008); Private Worlds: Kids and Autism (2007); Never Again: From the Holocaust to the Sudan (2005); Faces of Hope: The Kids of Afghanistan (2002) and What Are You Staring At? (1998). In addition, in 1995, the entire series won the Emmy. In 2009, Nick News was honored with the Edward R. Murrow Award for best Network News Documentary for Coming Home: When Parents Return from War -- the first-ever kids' television program to receive this prestigious award. Nick News has also received three Peabody Awards, including a personal award given to Ellerbee for explaining the impeachment of President Clinton to kids, as well as a Columbia duPont Award and more than a dozen Parents' Choice Awards.
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