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Actor Helps Students Experience MLK

Actor JO'Sei Ikeda performed at La Mesa Junior High on Tuesday.

Posted: February 20, 2008 3:44 p.m.
Updated: April 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.
JO'Sei Ikeda is a Hollywood actor most of the year, but from January through March, he is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The first three months of each year, Ikeda visits schools across California where he performs his one-man show based on the life of King and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

"I want the students to see that they can be Dr. King. It's the young people that make a difference in the world - King was still a young man when he started to make a difference," Ikeda said.

Ikeda spoke to students at La Mesa Junior High on Tuesday, beginning the assembly by telling the Canyon Country students about King's early years.

"At one time, Dr. King was just a young student like you," he told the crowd. "Young people are the catalyst for change in this world."

The actor went on to share events from King's life leading up to his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, when Ikeda selected some students to come up on stage and help him out, giving each student a line of the speech to say.

"This is not just Dr. King's speech, this is our speech," Ikeda said.

He went on to tell the students about the rest of King's life, including his civil rights activities and his Nobel Peace Prize award. King was assassinated by a gunman while standing on his hotel room balcony in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968.

"I don't want you to leave here feeling sad and tragic because of what happened to Dr. King," Ikeda told the students. "I want you to leave here being inspired."

After the program, eighth grader Erin Kelley said she was just that.

"I thought it was really interesting and I learned a lot about King's life," Erin said.

Alison Prevo, also an eighth grader, said she learned a lot from the assembly as well.

"I realized that even though Martin Luther King may have passed away, his dream is still carried on and people should never stop fighting for what they believe," Alison said.


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