MLK 50: Students hope to send their own message

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —Children marching to the beat of their own drum, hoping to send a message with integrity and in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Last month, Kroger announced it is closing several Mid-South stores, including one on South Third.

That news has been tough for many who shop at the store.

“I love that store, love, love, love,” says shopper and parent Celia Sanford Gray, “you can get fresh meats, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, which you cannot get from other grocery stores in our community.”

Gray’s 3rd grade daughter, a scholar at Vision Preparatory Charter School, was one of nearly two dozen students who marched in a protest of the store’s closing this past Wednesday.   Children held signs that read, “I am a child” and “I need fresh food.”

They’re hoping their voices will be heard, and the store will remain open.   It was the store’s closing next week which gave teachers and administrators at Vision Prep the idea to use it as a learning moment in the spirit of Dr. King.

Teacher Marie Cole says it was the perfect opportunity, “it just gives them a voice, gives them the power to speak-up and speak out, and just do it in the right way.”

Students have spent the year learning about Dr. King’s life and the marches he led here in Memphis.    They had a chance to visit the National Civil Rights Museum and the Ernest Withers Museum where they learned all about the “I am a Man” movement.

Vision’s founder Tom Benton says it was the perfect chance to get the children involved in what’s happening in the community, “the kids enjoyed it, they really got involved in it. They understand this is my grocery store in my neighborhood and it's gone.”

The Kroger on South Third and Lamar are expected to close next Saturday.  The president of Kroger’s Delta Division released a statement on the closings earlier this month saying, “we review our store’s performance annually and unfortunately, despite our store team’s best efforts, profits steadily continued to decline.”