philadelphia students march to end violence

Yesterday in Philadelphia, about 250 people commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by marching through Center City, demanding an end to violence in the Philadelphia schools: Center City marchers demand end to Phila. school violence.
Old and young, male and female, black, white, brown, and Asian, they staged a boisterous traffic-stopping trek to celebrate and emulate the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday was celebrated in Philadelphia and around the country today.

"If Dr. King had a choice of where he would be, he would be right here with you," the Rev. LeRoi Simmons told the crowd, as people gathered outside the Philadelphia School District offices on North Broad Street, from there marching to the Arch Street Methodist Church.

Dr. King was moved to action "by the injustice he saw, by the injustice you see," Simmons said.
This is great, but I'd still like to know what's going on to address the injustice at South Philly High. As you know, early last month, 26 Asian students were targeted and attacked at the school. There's been a lot of talk and little action.

Yesterday at South Philadelphia High School, more than 120 people attended a midmorning "Gathering of Unity," reflecting on Dr. King's work and words and pledging to strive for peaceful change. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who has been criticized for responding slowly to the December attack, told students that she "knew their pain":
To the Asian students, she said, "I really do understand what it feels like when people make you feel like you're not welcome," because she had attended a segregated school where black students were cursed and spat upon.

"My heart aches for you," she said.

To the African American students, she said, she understood the frustration of being "painted by the media and the larger community, by some not all, as thugs, based on what you look like."

She told the crowd, "We want to put this painful episode behind us. We really do. But we really want to learn from what happened on Dec. 3."
These are powerful sentiments, and certainly appropriate for the day and occasion. But Superintendent Ackerman's actions thus far have brought little reassurance to the victims of last month's attacks. I hope Ackerman's plan for healing and unity extends beyond a stirring speech on MLK Day.

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