Why Stand for Children?

By Jaclyn Suffel

As of this April, it stands that Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel just 43 years ago. 43 years in the scheme of history is an incredibly miniscule sum. If we were in the Crusades, for example, we wouldn’t even be at half-time yet. But the Memphis of today looks drastically different than what the communtiy faced in 1968. Dr. King was a catalyst in a movement that ushered in an era of change, growth, and discovery for our nation. Without his willingness to stand for what was right, we may not be living in a community that (however ungracefully) strives for equality, works towards respecting others, and champions those without a voice. The Memphis of 1968 faced an incredible challenge – the task of changing the very fiber of relationships within the community. While we still have a ways to go, those of you who were alive during that time can testify to the vast difference that brave citizens, committed communities, and strong leaders made and continue to make in this frontier. We are no longer the Memphis of 1968. However, if Dr. King had waited, if he had held back looking for the perfect opportunity to present itself, would we have changed? Would things be different?

The Memphis community of 2011 again faces a difficult and grave challenge. We are in a remarkable position to address the inequities of perhaps the most important societal structure that our nation has: its public education system. We are facing an incredibly complex decision? Do we consolidate our two systems? Do we keep things as is? What will this mean for our children? It is time for every member of our community to rise up, listen, educate themselves, and discuss with one another what they hope to see in an educational system that affects every aspect of our community. Our children are the largest stakeholder in this situation, and yet they have absolutely no say in what occurs. It is our responsibility as voting adults to stand up for them and make sure that their needs are protected, represented, and accounted for.

This is why I work for and am a member of Stand for Children. Stand for Children is a nonprofit that is dedicated to uniting parents, teachers, and community members to make a strong political voice for kids in public schools. We work hard to make sure that their needs are constantly prioritized with elected officials and policy makers through the input of parents, teachers, and the children themselves. Currently, we are working to educate the community about the charter dissolution, special school district status, and potential consolidation so that Memphians feel they can make an informed vote. We cannot wait for the “right time” to get involved in this conversation. If we wait as a community to activate and educate ourselves, valuable moments will be lost that cannot be recovered. Now is the time to take action. Now is the time to stand for children. A few actions that you can take as a community member are:
1. Reach out to a Stand for Children organizer, member, or Team Coordinator in your school to learn more and get engaged
2. Attend or volunteer to host an educational meeting and seek education on the issue
3. Register to vote and take someone else to vote

As a community organizer for Stand for Children, I think daily on the organizing of Dr. King and the profound impact it has had on our world. Dr. King got up every morning, washed his face, kissed his wife, and drank his coffee. He was no magical and ethereal entity – he was a man. Dr. King was a man who believed in his mission, our nation, the love between fellow humans, the hope that things can improve, and the willingness to take action in order to get there. It was this that made him incredible, and it was this that made him a hero. We each have the potential to be agents of change within our communities, much like Dr. King was. Though we may never make as wide reaching an impact, we can strive towards goodness and justice and leave things a little better than when we found them. It is our duty to ourselves and to the memory of the many men and women like Dr. King who came before us. My way of living on in his memory is by being a part of Stand, and I ask that each of you do the same. If you would like to learn more about how to get engaged at your local school, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Jaclyn Suffel is a Memphis organizer for Stand for Children and a Cooper-Young resident. You may contact her at 901-438-7786. For more information on Stand for Children visit stand.org.

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