Many Have Shared MLK's Dream

in some places, it has been more difficult to be heard

A few years before Martin Luther King, Jr., Day became a legal holiday, a teenaged girl made the news. The same age as myself, and attending a school in a different state, she appeared on the news when her High School refused to allow her to read a paper she had written about Martin Luther King. The paper was about Rev. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and the girl was nearly in tears because she was told she could not read it to her class.

 

I did not know the outcome of the issue, or whatever became of the girl after the incident; but it is one example of how those whose purpose is to do good are often opposed every step of the way. After Rev. King's work merited a holiday, there were politicians and states in the United States that did not want to cooperate with it. From refusing to acknowledge and observe the holiday to calling it something different, the holiday that was made a federal holiday in 1983 it was not observed as such in all states until 2000.

 

When it comes to doing good for others without any emphasis on personal gain, some people are quite visible and very well-known. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others in the Civil Rights Movement were in the former category. However, people like Sherida Jones may only be known to a few, yet their role is equally important. These quiet, everyday people also have a very significant place in history.

Following a Leader

MLK was a good role model

During the last couple of decades, I have noticed a couple of very negative approaches to choosing role models.  While the older generations sometimes have negative input, it's the younger generations who can benefit the most from good priorities. 

The first approach usually focuses on individuals who were in the public eye in the past.  Young people who were not alive at that time idolize public figures from Charles Manson to Malcolm X.  Whether it is a matter of rebellion, or simply not having been taught how destructive these individuals were in their day, is up for question. 

 

The second approach, usually coming from older people, is to pick bits and pieces of individuals' personal lives, in an attempt to take the focus off all of the good works they did during their lifetimes.  Sometimes it is fact;  other times it is fiction.

 

Unlike those who practiced and preached hate and destruction, Martin Luther King both preached and practiced love, unity, and brotherhood.  His goal was to build, rather than to tear down.  He accomplished more during his lifetime than most other figures in American history.  Individuals who look for something that is less-than-prefect about a leader are saying more about themselves than about the leader in question.  They are essentially saying no one deserves the respect that they have earned.

 

While many schools in the United States teach about Martin Luther King, even more emphasis should be placed on this great leader.  Perhaps more young people would realize he was one of the best role models there have been in recent generations. 

MLK Left Us Much to Think About

regardless of the consequences to himself, Martin Luther King never backed down

Amongst the many positive points about Martin Luther King, Jr., is the fact that he never backed down.  Regardless of how difficult a challenge may have been, or the consequences to himself, he always stood up for what he believed was right.  Enduring everything from physical abuse to taunts, suspicion about his motives to incarceration, he took to heart one of his most famous quotes:  "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."*

 

As anyone who was familiar with, or has read extensively about, Rev. King knows, he used words like "friends" and "brothers" to cover everybody.  Whether on a global, national, community, or personal level, everyone counted. 

 

Rev. King knew from both history and his own era how destructive silence can be.  The Civil Rights Movement would have never begun, nor would anything have been accomplished, if everyone had remained silent.  Further back in history, perhaps the Holocaust could have been prevented had one person or more than one person spoken up and said "Human beings are being harmed--  this is Wrong."

 

Many have learned from Rev. King that true courage is standing and speaking when it is unpopular, when it is met with resistance, when there are consequences.  In the past and the present, why have individuals elected to remain silent?  Silence can be due to apathy, fear, or personal gain.  Many remain silent because they do not wish to become involved, fear the consequences, or see no point in speaking if they themselves would not benefit. 

 

On both large and small scales, opportunities to stand, speak, and do the right thing consistently present themselves.  True injustice does not only affect those who are wronged--  it affects everyone.  Rev. King's quote should leave us all with something to think about--  as it is always the right time to do the right thing.

 

 

Celebrating Dr. King

"This is one of the best ways we can teach about tolerance, racism, freedom..."

Upon hearing how several schools in my area are not celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and how several other schools had planned on doing so but had class instead in order to make up snow days, I was appalled. It took many years for our local schools to begin recognizing this holiday; growing up, we never did in my school. Most of the recognition for this day has been through business sales, and that is just not acceptable.

Most of the homeschoolers I know are celebrating Dr. King’s life and achievements this week, and we are no exception. I hope that every parent will do the same, whether your school district does or doesn’t. Discussing this great man is one of the best ways we can teach about history, tolerance, acceptance, racism, freedom, and so many other things that remain relevant to our lives today.

My daughter is six, and I was able to share many resources about Dr. King with her today, and plan on doing so for the rest of the week. I would like to share those with you here; please feel free to add your own.

  • A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. We have read this book twice already and my daughter continually has questions about racism, segregation, slavery, and Dr. King himself. We have looked up some of these, but mostly we have discussed equality and inequality and how we can work to make a more just world.
  • Our Friend Martin. We watched the whole movie on YouTube and it was very relevant and interesting, about two boys who travel back into time to meet Dr. King. It also deals with what would happen if Dr. King had never been around to do the work he did, which absolutely horrified my daughter. She said she wanted to punch some of the oppressors, which led us to having another discussion about peaceful protest and King’s message.
  • Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. We watched this short but informative message about King’s life.
  • I Have a Dream: We listened to the speech this morning, and this afternoon we will be making our own “I have a dream” posters about what we would like the world to be like, and how we can make that happen.
  • You can also do lots of crafts for the day, such as the ones here or here. You can also find coloring pages on the web.

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The perfect book for celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with kids

In preparation for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we decided to pick out a few books about Dr. King to learn more about this important man. One of the best age-appropriate books that I found for a kindergartener was David A. Adler’s A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. The text was simple and easy to understand, and the images were interesting and covered plenty of historically significant events without being scary or overwhelming.

That said, the book is a little dry; there are few descriptions of how King really felt growing up. These would surely be speculative anyway, for sure, but it’s important for children to understand how racism makes people feel, and just how important it is to stand up against it.

The most inspiring passage, I think, is in a section that deals with King’s childhood. It discusses how King cried when two of his friends decided that they would no longer play with him, and how he did not understand why the color of his skin mattered to anyone. His mother then explains, in the book, about how slavery occurred in the Americas, and how that the history of such an atrocity still lingered in the country, barring black and white people from being equal. It’s stated very simply to allow discussion with children, and I really appreciate this as an introduction to slavery for young children.

The rest of King’s life is explored, from his heroes to his development of reading and his ministry. The protests during his life, and the threats on his very life itself, are covered, and King’s words about meeting hate with love are met with a very beautiful picture of King. The protest signs featured in the book are another great way to teach about King as well as the right to protest and how important it is to stand up for what you believe in.

King’s famous March on Washington, the changes he helped to bring about, and his tragic death are all covered in the text as well. Each is met with dignity and simplicity, which is perhaps the best way to introduce these topics to children. I would definitely recommend this picture book to children over this holiday. I know many of us use the day as simply a day off work and school, but I hope that parents and teachers are using it to help highlight our history and to celebrate King’s life next week.

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

his message lives on

January 15, 2012, would have been Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 83rd birthday.  This great leader lost his life in 1968, at only 39 years of age, but the good works he did during his lifetime have had a positive impact on his generations and the generations that followed.  Ronald Reagan, during his presidency, declared Martin Luther King, Jr., Day to be a holiday.  It is now observed throughout the United States on January 16th.

 

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was destined for greatness.  Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he later completed college, seminary, and doctoral studies.  He had become a pastor at only twenty-five years of age.  He was one of the most noteable individuals in the Civil Rights Movement, and strongly opposed the war in Vietnam.  With nonviolence as his theme, he affected change, earning the respect of people throughout America.  In 1964, he received the Nobel Peace Prize, and donated his prize money to the Civil Rights Movement.  In 1977 and 2004, respectively, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. 

 

Martin Luther King envisioned a better world--  especially in terms of racial harmony.  Although an assassin took his life more than four decades ago, his message continues to live on.  On this year's Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, you can observe the holiday and celebrate the person behind it.  You can start by reading one or more of his books, checking out some online sites, or watching a television special.  The way to keep his Dream alive is to make sure no one forgets.

Thinking About Martin Luther King

many things Rev. King said are still meaningful

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" is one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most famous quotes. Looking back through the generations, it should not be difficult to see that quote is timeless. The only real difference is the different ways it has been interpreted.

 

The generation known as "the Greatest Generation" was described by Richard Nixon as "the Silent Majority" vs. "the vocal minority." Many years ago, I asked some members of that generation why, with many serious issues in the United States, they'd had little or no involvement in any of it. I was told most adults were busy raising and supporting their families, and did not have time for direct involvement. However, the lack of direct involvement did not mean they were completely "silent about things that matter." Whether casting votes or speaking up against wrongs, their voices were still heard.

 

The following generations were even less "silent." Whether actively participating in anti-war protests or finding some other platform to get their points across, they made it clear they had something to say-- and said it. The '70s, and the youth of the '70s, were not looked on as favorably. The media referred to it as The Age of Nothingness, The Age of Narcissism, and The 'Me' Generation. In the decade following Rev. King's assassination, fewer people took that quote to mean things that matter beyond oneself. Some even said "if it does not affect me, personally, why should I care?"

 

Today's youth and young adults grew up in the shadow of The 'Me' Generation. Fortunately, many have not automatically absorbed the apathy of the generation before them. Whether by action, words, or both, Rev. King's quote is often taken to heart. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." If you think about it, what matters? What are you doing to make a difference in the world, or even in your small part of the world? Is the focus on self-- or on community? Above all, how do you react to injustice? Martin Luther King, Jr., did not close his eyes to injustice-- and neither should anyone else. Every person has the opportunity to make a difference.

Diversity Education is Not the Answer

decades ago, Martin Luther King had a better idea

In the United States, some schools teach "diversity education."  A few years ago, a student said it is a good idea, because it teaches about people's differences.  This is the wrong message, and the wrong way of going about it.  

A quote from one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, books says it all:  Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.  His book was "Stride Toward Freedom," published in 1958.

 

Teaching kids about differences may result in knowledge--  but knowledge is not enough.  This type of knowledge may be sufficient if the people kids are being taught about are in faraway countries--  people they are not likely to have the chance to meet in person.  However, teaching kids about differences amongst individuals in the same country, the same state, even the same city where they live, backfires.  Instead, we should focus on getting rid of the separateness that causes the misunderstandings.  

 

In recent years, I have been in regions where people of all races "stick to their own kind."  Contrary to Dr. King's dream, people are still being judged--  and misjudged--  on the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character.  If future generations are ever to turn the tide against racism, it is time to end separateness and begin to live in harmony.  It should not matter which country one's ancestors are from--  because there is only one human race. 

 

Rev. Martin Luther King: A True Hero, A True Leader

his words are as relevant today as they were in the past

 

 

 

My all-time favorite book by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is "Where Do We Go From Here:  Chaos Or Community?"  This book, published in 1967, is as relevant today as it was in the past;  and it is relevant to everyone.

This book describes the struggles of the Civil Rights movement, and addresses solutions.  However, Dr. King's wonderful ways of wording shows the need for human dignity was not limited to one segment of the population.  As one example, Dr. King wrote:  "Human worth lies in relatedness to God.  An individual has value because he has value to God."*  Unlike the Founding Fathers, who did indeed place limitations on the 'men' they felt had 'certain inalienable rights,' Dr. King's declaration of human worth did not.  The individual person has value--  regardless of race, gender, age, or any other personal characteristics.

The worth and dignity of each and every human being can be summed up by this passage from Dr. King's book:  "The absence of freedom imposes restraint on my deliberations as to what I shall do, where I shall live, or the kind of task I shall pursue...  When I cannot choose what I shall do or where I shall live, it means in fact that someone or some system has already made these decisions for me, and I am reduced to an animal...  I cannot adequately assume responsibility as a person because I have been made the victim of a decision in which I played no part...'*  While Dr. King uses written terminology such as man, mankind, and brotherhood, it was not with the Founding Fathers' assumption that one must be "free, white, over-the-age, and male" in order to secure one's human rights and dignities.  From persons-of-color to women and children, an individual has value because he has value to God.*

Whenever there are great leaders, there will be those who attempt to discredit them.  From indiscretions in his personal life to the fact that he smoked cigarettes, nay-sayers continue to point fingers at Dr. King's alleged unfitness to be held up as the great leader that he was.  Perhaps Matthew 7:3 would be an appropriate response:  "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  Why would anyone wish to discredit Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  because they do not like what he taught.  Rather than admitting Dr. King was right in his teachings about the value of every human being, they instead zero in on his imperfections.  Instead of looking at "specks of sawdust," they should be looking at their own "planks."

Much has changed since the publication of this book in 1967, but there is much more that still needs to be changed.  Only when basic human worth and dignity granted as a birthright to every man and woman and child is fully acknowledged, will Dr. King's Dream be realized.