Memphis, TN (WREG) -- A young girl wrote her friend a letter explaining she couldn't go to her birthday party because she's black.
The children are students at Highland Oaks Elementary, but as disappointing as the note is, civil rights activist Lasimba Gray said hopefully this turns into a teaching experience.
"Fifty-two years since the Dr. King "I have a dream speech," you would think that the basis for racism would disappear, but evidently it is being perpetuated by those who teach it," Gray said.
Gray dedicated his life to civil and human rights when he saw the letter he called it "regrettable" because a parent told their child it's OK to judge someone based on the color of their skin.
"Every child has a blank canvas when they come into the world," Gray said.
The letter reads in part, "Maybe I will not be able to go to your birthday sleepover because my dad will not let me go because you are black."
The birthday sleepover was for Harmony Jones.
When her father, Christopher Jones, saw the letter, he was surprised.
"It angered me a little bit, it hurt me that my 10-year-old girl had to deal with this, and I myself never thought I would have to deal with this," he said.
Jones says he doesn't blame his daughter's friend.
"I guess us as parents need to be more aware and conscious about what we teach our children," he said.
As regrettable as the note is, Gray hopes it's something everyone can learn from.
"When parents run across racism that's a good moment to teach tolerance but more than that to teach understanding to appreciate each other and celebrate our diversity," Gray said.
The Jones family didn't let the letter ruin the party Friday. Harmony still had a successful birthday.
The school didn't have a comment about what happened.
-Reporting by Shay Arthur, WREG-TV