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Parent-principal embrace shows MLK Dream lives - abc27 WHTM

Parent-principal embrace shows MLK Dream lives

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The students have returned to Middletown's Fink Elementary School.

"Some of them are very excited to come back," said Fink Principal Tom Shaffer. "Others... not so much," he added with a laugh.

But Sean Bennett, decades removed from elementary school, may be most excited of all that summer's over.

"The first day of school, on Monday, was like 'yeah yeah halleluiah,' " Bennett said pumping his fists and with a big smile on his face.

Sean's youngest child, Aubrey, started kindgergarten Monday. He is now done funding daycare. Sean was so spontaneously happy about taking Aubrey to class that grabbed Shaffer and gave him a hug. The principal expects emotional parents on the first day of school but was startled by Bennett.

"The startling part was I thought he needed a hug because he was sad his youngest was coming to school," Shaffer said. "Then he told me, 'this is great. No more daycare.' "

The bear hug made a great photo and an even better story.

Sean sent it to abc27 and and we posted it on our Facebook page on this, the 50th anniversary of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech.

Sean pointed out the significance.

"Fifty years ago you wouldn't have seen an African-American man and a Caucasian man hugging it out like that because it wasn't heard of," Bennett said. "In some places, you'd of got hanged."

Sean understands and passes on history to his children. He's taken them to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and explains King's broader message to them.

"All people, of any race and creed, come together and just look at each other as a human beings, not of color."

But for Sean's family, speeches and statues are secondary teaching tools.

"My wife is a Caucasian woman. We have mixed children so we're trying to live the dream."

Sean says progress is being made but there's still work to be done on the race-relations front.

A half block from Fink Elementary, a neighbor has a flagpole on the front lawn and flies the Confederate stars and bars.

But the school itself is ethnically diverse. Other than the fact that it sits Race Street, ethnicity is not a factor.

"There's not necessarily a policy we follow in the building regarding race," Shaffer said. "We just embrace everybody."

That philosphy would get the approval of Dr. King, and another enthusiastic embrace from Sean Bennett. 

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