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Knowledge is solution to what ails the nation

"I have a dream . . ." More than 20 years have passed since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his most famous speech (in my 12th-grade year I had the privilege of reciting it in front of my student body) and his dream has yet to become reality.

Society has many of us believing that his dream has been fulfilled because we blacks attend the same schools as whites, eat in the same restaurants, drink from the same water fountains and sit in front of the bus if we choose.

However, the down side of having these basic rights is that it has perpetuated a mentality of complacency. We blacks attend the same schools now, but our students still are separate. They separate themselves in class, at lunch, in the auditorium, in clubs and even on the bus that is used to help bring about so-called equality in the schools.

Do we really think when Dr. King saw in his dream black and white children attending school together, that he envisioned what we have now? In Pinellas County, to meet a set ratio, we are busing black and white students 10 to 20 miles away from neighborhood schools. We need to develop a better plan than ratios. These set percentages threaten the very goal we are after _ racial harmony.

The nightmare blacks experience from day to day is one that everyone tries to blame on blacks. Black on black crime, the black dropout rate, the number of blacks in jails. I believe that if you take a bunch of poor, frustrated, confused people, of course they are going to shoot, rob and kill each other. I don't agree with anyone getting a free ride if they are able. In reality, you are a product of your environment. The brain is a computer and can work only with what's installed in it (some are blessed with self-enhancement).

If a black baby grew up in Japan, he would speak Japanese. Ignorance begets ignorance and poverty begets poverty and low self-esteem. Usually, ignorant parents raise an ignorant child. As soon as this child is placed in the school system he's placed and categorized in a low reading or math group. So, from the beginning, they have no chance. This cycle continues until that one special person comes along who is taught by someone outside his family that there is another way of life. The problem with that special person is that they forget where they came from. I challenge blacks to unite and learn your history and don't be afraid to dream.

This is how students will feel part of society; not by giving them a separate month for a little recognition. I think if a student feels he or she is part of something, he or she will stick around rather than drop out. We definitely need something more than what is being offered to the students in Florida. The dropout rate is astronomical. By developing a student's desire to stay in school, be it through integrating his or her culture throughout the yearly lesson plans or through other means, there is a possible solution to the crime situation.

The nightmare of black-on-black crime, in particular, would decrease greatly if education about one's culture, pride and self respect is instilled in the African-American student. Then the cycle of the lack of self respect and pride will be broken.

One major solution is to carefully place those politicians who really believe education is the only real investment that makes sense. All other possessions can be taken from you by an uneducated, poverty-stricken, desperate person. So I challenge all politicians presently in, or running for, office to place the problems of inadequate African-American history being taught in our school system high on their list of priorities.

For the last year, through the use of rap, I have preached this message, "If We Could Push Knowledge Instead of Dope," along with the importance of education, self esteem, personal hygiene and black history. This year I plan to do it all again, but this time around I will focus on the inadequate teachings of African-American history in schools. Last year our mission was called the "Pushing Knowledge Tour," but this year we're labeling our mission the "Flesh, Blood and Skin Tour."

The epitome of my campaign is the fact that we are all created equal but we are not all treated equally, educated equally, or given the same opportunity to live or die equally. America has become a joke, a lie. They are trying to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Already, we no longer have prayer in school. We have people burning flags. Make America respectable again. I would go to jail before I go to war for America. The day I will fight for this country is when we are all taught we are all composed of flesh, blood and skin!

- Greg Hunt, 20, is the lyricist for the St. Petersburg rap group "3 B.O.K." In 1989 the group toured public schools with an anti-drug message.

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