MLK Jr. Day Highlight: Chelsea Gans

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MLK Jr. Day Highlight: Chelsea Gans

Working at the Boys and Girls Club in Salem, Chelsea Gans has one major goal: empower Salem-Keizer youth.

Gans said she wants to teach the children she works with about peace, unity and respect, but also that their dreams and aspirations are obtainable.

To honor civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Gans helped kids make posters and murals. She worked with them to learn about King and his work leading up to the day.

“One student came up to me and told me he was a descendant of MLK Jr. I asked if it was because he is African-American and he said, ‘Yes,’ ” she said, smiling.

Gans said she would like others to listen to, lift up and learn from the youth’s stories more frequently.

“There are many faces of diversity,” she said. “With the future of Trump as president, I hope people can be open minded … respecting (themselves) and others, even if they have a different opinion.

“Looking at history, I don’t want (us) to backtrack.”

Gans said community service and research are great ways to start when it comes to celebrating the MLK Jr. holiday, but don’t stop there.

“MLK Jr. broke down a lot of walls, not just for the black community, but for others as well,” she said. “These holidays (can be) meaningless… but they (can also be) a good time to reflect (on) where we’ve come from and how to progress moving forward.”

Contact Natalie at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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