Morgan Park Academy welcomed the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. to campus Thursday for its annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Invited by his godson, sixth-grader Elijah Moss, Rev. Jackson addressed students, parents, faculty, and staff (VIDEO) at the start of an all-school program. He discussed his work with Dr. King during the civil rights movement and their shared passion for advancing the cause of peace and justice in America and throughout the world.
"Dr. King would enjoy being here today because you look like the world he fought for," Rev. Jackson told students. "Across lines of race and gender, here you sit."
Rev. Jackson spoke at length on the subjects of education, self-empowerment, achieving goals, and making good choices in life.
He told students how much Dr. King valued his own education, and how seriously he took it. Dr. King graduated from Morehouse College at 19 and had completed his seminary study and doctorate work by 26.
"Dr. King used his youth wisely, and so when the opportunity and challenge to lead came his way he was prepared," Rev. Jackson said. "It would have been too late to get prepared when opportunity came his way. So every year and every day matters. Every day matters."
Rev. Jackson also looked to the rest of the world, touching on the Academy's global education as he emphasized the importance of worldwide fellowship at a time when Americans comprise less than 5 percent of global population.
"We are a minority member of the human family," he said.
"Today, our languages may be different, but the message is the same. We want learning and liberty everywhere. We want drinkable water everywhere. We want to wipe out diseases everywhere. We want children to learn everywhere. Stop the flow of drugs. Stop the gun violence. Learn respect for each other -- everywhere. Learn to coexist with brothers and sisters in this one world, everywhere."
Thursday's program (VIDEO) also featured performances and presentations by students from all three school divisions.