Boycott was 382 days long Editor's note: In the "By the numbers" article (January, 2003) on Martin Luther King Jr's legacy, we left off a digit in describing the length of the successful Montgomery boycott King lead against the city's segregated bus system. It lasted 382 days. Thanks to the readers who pointed this out. We regret the error. Redshirting label hurts kids In response to the February 2003 article, "Is Your Child Ready for School?" by Heather Cunningham, I was looking forward to reading an article about the kindergarten debate that was both informative and insightful. I found Cunningham’s article to be neither. I have two children in elementary school, both turned 5 and went to kindergarten. I’ve had many conversations with other parents and teachers about sending a child to kindergarten. I have not spoken to one who has said it was a mistake to wait a year. The term "redshirting" is both misused and derogatory. I have never heard the term used outside the college sporting community and, frankly, I hope no child has to either. The term was coined in the 1960s when athletes began wearing red shirts to draw attention to the fact that they weren’t permitted to play due to years of eligibility. A kindergartner wouldn’t walk around with any such public display of readiness. Children should be able to be children without people with limited knowledge labeling them. KATHLEEN REID MARTIN
Healthy beverage pyramid Just a note to Bev Bennett for her part of the article "Weighty Issues" (January 2003). There is a healthy beverage pyramid. She had mentioned that there isn’t one and there should be, so I went looking. There are several, but the two good ones are by Dr. John Weisberger of the American Health Foundation and also one by the Processed Apples Institute’s registered dietician, Sue Taylor. Just an FYI. GAIL J. SOMMERFELD, Northwest Community Healthcare
An affordable contribution Many charitable organizations have had a rough year. Need for their services increased, while donations are down. Many potential donors carry heavy credit card debt. Their resources are concentrated on paying their bills. However, many credit cards award bonus points or frequent flier miles. If these could be applied to nonprofits, even the most financially strapped debtor might be able to contribute. Many points or miles expire; these are often wasted or force the recipient to do just anything to use them. This might help the fortunes of struggling airlines, too. If price, service and convenience were comparable, most people would use the one that enabled them to help out a good cause. JAMES REYES, Chicago
Gun ads should be banned I noticed your October 2002 cover story on kids and guns, and I wanted to bring up another important issue about buying guns that most people don’t consider. Many newspapers are giving young people the opportunity to purchase a handgun by placing gun ads in daily papers. This new marketing strategy will only create a more dangerous environment for our kids. Newspapers say they bear no responsibility for these ads because they don’t benefit from the sales. Why publish them then? Out of 282 newspapers (nationwide), large and small, 217 (77 percent) of accepted classified ads for private gun sales. This is an alarming number of gun ads that kids can see. We already deal with numerous magazines promoting handguns. Our kids don’t need another source for purchasing violent weapons. Can you imagine a teenager searching through the daily classified section for employment, only to see pictures of a handgun posted in its place? Three years ago, a man named Benjamin Smith tried to purchase a gun from a federally licensed dealer. He was turned down when his background check showed his girlfriend had won a restraining order against him. Smith then turned to the classified section of the Peoria Journal Star, where he saw ads for a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a .22-caliber pistol. Smith used the .22-caliber pistol on an interstate shooting spree, killing two and wounding nine before killing himself. "People, who are prohibited by the law from buying a firearm, are able to do so through classifieds," says John Johnson, executive director of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence. Gun advocates in 16 states are urging newspapers to stop running the kinds of ads that allowed Smith, a white supremacist, to buy a firearm. Banning gun ads won’t stop a criminal from getting a gun, but it will limit the chances of a child being influenced to buy one. To look at it another way, the same sniper rifle that was used in the Virginia area killings can be purchased through classified ads without a background check. We need to stop newspapers from publishing ads that promote violent activities. There is enough violence in the paper every day; we don’t need ads that gives youth the opportunity to purchase handguns. FRED LONG, Ulrich Children’s Home, Chicago
Chicago Parent welcomes letters from its readers. In order to publish a letter, we must have the name and phone number of the writer, and the name of the town in which he or she resides. Names can be withheld upon request. Please send letters to: • Susy Schultz, editor, Chicago Parent magazine, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, Il 60302 • Or fax them to Susy at (708) 524-8360 • Or e-mail them to SSchultz@wjinc.com. We may edit letters for space or clarity. We will not divulge the addresses or phone numbers of letter-writers, or forward messages to them.