Teaching Kids About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated the third Monday of January in the United States.
Government offices are closed, as are many schools, but lots remain open and business continues as usual.
Probably just means people are beginning to forget. Beginning to think that celebrating a man who fought for equality and peace isn’t really necessary anymore because we have all of that now. And, we don’t have segregation and prejudice and discrimination anymore now that it’s against the law.
Probably they are wrong. There remain inequities in today’s America. We still don’t live in a peaceful nation. Sure, we’re better now than we were then. Loads in fact.
But, we can go even further. We still aren’t really living Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream and, I don’t know about you, but I’d kinda like to.
Ignorance can’t hang out with education, so here are some things you should educate your kids on!
4 Things You Should Teach Your Kids About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1. Who he was. I recall when even my own kids thought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was nothing more than a busy street in a neighboring city. But kids should know that he was so much more than a highway, or a hospital, or a reason to skip school and stay home on the Xbox all day. They should know that, not only was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a black man who fought for peace and equality in America, he was also seriously freaking smart. Like go-to-college-at-15 smart. They should also know that he was a minister, and a husband, and a father. But, he was also a regular type guy (you know, sort of) whose passion led him to do great things and that the things he did are the sort of things any kid can do one day. He changed the world in ways that didn’t take super speed or a freakishly tall body to accomplish. It wasn’t his great hair and sexy abs and it wasn’t about luck or money or popularity. He did something everyday kids can actually aspire to: become amazing by trying seriously freaking hard.
2. What he did. Kids don’t need all of the deets about the Civil Rights Movement or the role Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. played in it to appreciate his accomplishments. Lots of it is brutal and difficult to understand anyway. It’s more about teaching kids how he wanted every person to be treated the same regardless of how they looked. And, he fought for it. Not with his fists, with his intellect. He didn’t get buck in the street of Mississippi to make his point, he used his eloquent words, and reason, and faith, and love to change people’s minds. Making him not only a great role model for humanity in general, but also for temper tantruming 6 year olds everywhere. MLK didn’t stomp his feet and poke out his lips when he didn’t get his way, did he?! No siree.
3. Why he had to do it. At our house, we have a tangible example to make MLK’s significance hit home for our boys: were it not for the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and people like him, Daddy and Mommy couldn’t be married. We couldn’t be a family. Because it would be illegal thanks to crazy people and their crazy laws. It’s easy for kids to understand profound things like prejudice and discrimination when you help them see how it affects their life specifically. Telling them that they wouldn’t be able to be friends with an Asian classmate or that they would never enjoy their favorite ice cream because their skin color would keep them out of a certain restaurant they love helps them understand how different and unfair life was before the Civil Rights Movement.
4. What we can do to remember his legacy. Sure, those book reports and “I Have a Dream” projects they bring home from school are great, but teaching your kids to try living his dream is way more impactful. Dr. King’s dream, that humans, regardless of unchangeable things like color, would be able to live, side by side, in peace and brotherhood is livable. That people would work to build a nation, a world, that is untainted by hate and oppression is accomplishable. Those are the things I want The Dudes to remember well after the art projects and book reports are forgotten.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is only celebrated one day a year, but his teachings can be celebrated daily.
Image via Flickr: alvesfamily