It is Black History Month in the U.S., a month to honor and reflect on the contributions and history of black people.

Every day, there are events that make me think about the “I Have A Dream” speech delivered by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Aug. 28, 1963, during the March On Washington.  The following is an excerpt of his speech:

“I have a dream that one day…the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood…I have a dream that…children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…”

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a senior neighborhood friend who was not feeling well.  As we sat talking in my friend’s living room, we noticed the outer storm door on the front of his house open and then close.  My friend asked me to see who was there.  When I went out onto his front porch, I was greeted by a group of six or seven Nichols School students standing on the front sidewalk.  They explained that they were sixth-graders and that an eighth-grader had bullied them and thrown one of their backpacks onto my friend’s roof. Uh-oh. 

I went down the porch steps and saw that the backpack was on the porch roof, not the second-story roof.  Thank goodness for that.  Since it wasn’t far from a second floor window, I thought it could be pushed down with a broom.  I explained to the students that I did not live at this house, but I would see what I could do. 

I went back into the house and asked my friend about a broom or something to push the backpack down.  He directed me to where the brooms and other poles could be found.  When I got a pole and explained that I needed to open the upstairs window, my friend said that the window could not be opened.  Uh-oh. 

I went back outside with the pole in hand and told this to the students.  They pointed out that there was a railing next to the front porch steps that one of them could stand on. 

I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea, but I was outvoted, so to speak.  One of the students immediately climbed onto the railing, took the pole I extended to him, snagged the backpack and pulled it to the edge of the roof until it tumbled down. Cheers. Clap, clap.

The students thanked me and thanked me. This surprised me since I had only provided the pole. Even as they walked away, they looked back and thanked me.

I don’t remember who claimed the backpack because I was too giddy from all their gratitude. 

“You’re welcome,” I said several times with a smile that all but broke my jawbones.

As my mother would have said, “I was as proud of them as if I had birthed them.”  What was so uplifting besides the fact that these kids were so polite was the fact that this was a group of black, brown and white kids, whose camaraderie gave credence to Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

Thanks, kids, for showing that brotherhood works.

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...