Black father furious; school District 135 open on Dr. King’s birthday

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dad: “My kids are staying home”

By Chinta Strausberg

January 15 is the official 90th birthday of the legendary and iconic Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and while most African Americans look forward to the national holiday, a 36-year-old Black father of two is outraged that his children are being told to report to school.

Christopher Hurley lives in Orland Hills, and he is “highly offended” that School District 135, which operates several schools including Century Jr. High and Meadow Ridge Elementary School, has told the students to report to classes on Tuesday, January 15, on Dr. King’s 90th birthday.

“They are doing this to make up for a snow day,” said Hurley. “This is a national holiday. Yes, I am highly offended because we have fought for so long for the right to have this holiday.”

“I will not be sending my children to school,” he said.

“Why didn’t the district choose February 12, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday or March 4, Pulaski Day, or what about February 18, President’s Day? Why did they choose Dr. King’s birthday to hold classes? It is inconsiderate, and it clearly seems like it is racist.

“There are about 30 African American families out here, and we are not sending our children to school on Dr. King’s birthday,” Hurley said.

While officials from school District 135 did not return this reporter’s calls, Sam Parker from the Meadow Ridge Elementary School, denied holding classes on Dr. King’s birthday was racist.

She said it was the teachers who first voted to hold classes on January 15, followed by a vote by the board, and she made it clear that the date was chosen by numerical order. She said Dr. King’s birthday came first.

Parker said the students would be learning about Dr. King’s history on Tuesday.

In 1991, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB-2859 introduced by the late Senator Bill Shaw, Representative Mary Flowers, former Senator Donne Trotter, former Representative Monique D. Davis and others, requiring all Illinois public elementary and high schools to teach African American history “not only in the U.S. but also in Africa.”

The bill also mandated the teaching of events of the history of women in America.

The We Can Inc., Committee, headed by Florence Cox, met with then CPS/CEO Dr. Barbara Byrd Bennett who eventually compiled a Black history curriculum in every subject; however, activists and some students say Black history is not being taught.

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