Students honor Martin Luther King Jr. at West Side basketball tournament

CHICAGO — Most students will have off Monday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In East Garfield Park, 37 teams of kids are honoring the civil rights legend in a different way — by competing in a basketball tournament that runs through Monday.

Coach Dorothy Gaters started the MLK Dream Classic tournament in 2001. At the time, just four teams, all girls, took part.

Now, it draws kids from private and public schools, the city and suburbs. It’s an opportunity for young people to see each other as their equals.

“You never know when you might need someone else,” Jakyah Amos, a junior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, said. “It gives you strong bonds with others.”

For Gaters, that’s the goal.

“I know that as an African-American person, there’s a personal gratitude,” Gaters said. “And I think it’s incumbent of me and others who work with kids to remind them that you’re not out of school just for a day to play around. It’s a day of reflection.”

The free tournament runs through Monday at John Marshall High School, 3250 W. Adams St. For more information, visit mlkdreamclassic.org.

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