Friend of GLAAD Will Phillips will appear on an upcoming segment of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee on Sunday, February 13, at 9:00 PM EST to discuss the future of equality in America. The feature is subtitled Beyond I Have a Dream and reflects on the impact of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., addressing his message of freedom for everyone which is too often depicted as a sole plea for racial equality.
Ellerbee chose to air this special in celebration of Black History Month and the 25th anniversary of celebrating Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday. Dr. King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, but his dream is frequently reduced to his participation in civil rights activism. “He fought for racial injustice, but he really fought for justice for everybody. He had so many more wonderful things to say beyond ‘I have a dream.’ Why don’t we examine those things?” Ellerbee explained in discussing her inspiration for the feature, which examines Dr. King’s other messages as well as how American youth might interpret them in 2011.
Will Phillips is one of those youth. He was only 10 years old when he made headlines by refusing to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance in his fifth grade elementary school classroom in West Fork, Arkansas in 2009. He did this because he didn’t believe there was “liberty and justice for all,” especially for LGBT people who are not free to marry and claim the same rights as heterosexual people. He was chastised in his hometown for speaking out, and ultimately had to leave school.
Will’s courage and commitment to equality won him a GLAAD Media Award last year for “Outstanding TV Segment.” In his acceptance speech, Will stated, “I believe activism is important. Activism is change. … I accept this award on behalf of those who have been struck down, beaten up, and instead of attention and praise, have gotten only intolerance, violence, or even worse—indifference. … Lack of equality for some is lack of equality for all.”
Ellerbee’s inclusion of Will’s story on Nickelodeon is important to encourage positive images and messages of the LGBT community around young people, who show increasing acceptance of LGBT rights. Nick News is currently in its 20th year and is the longest-running kids’ news show in television history. It has received 20 Emmy nominations and recently won its eighth Emmy award. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 16 consecutive years.
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Beyond I Have a Dream will air on Nickelodeon this Sunday, February 13, at 9:00 PM EST.