As an educator, I sometimes wonder if my students truly understand the significance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After a lesson and discussion about the leader’s life, his “I Have A Dream” speech, also segregation, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the fight for Civil Rights, some of my students still think that it was a very long time ago. They think that timed have changed and it doesn’t affect them today.
I can understand their thinking, because their immature eyes and mind, see things that make them believe that Dr. King’s dream has come to pass. They see “White and Black children playing together” in some of their school yards. They don’t see visual “Whites Only” and “Blacks Only” signs in their communities. Also, they see black people and white people working together in business, sports, on television, in music, and more. To some children, things have changed since the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And yes, some things have changed. Yet, one thing that has not, racism. The passage of the Civil Rights Act did not eradicate racism altogether.
For this reason, children need to be made aware. They need to be educated on the significance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and the many other Civil Right leaders that fought for change. We also need to show them that the fight continues.
And how do we do this?
Well, we can start by showing them the time that we are living in. Have a conversation about current events, that show that the fight for equality is alive. Share with them the Charlottesville protest by White Supremacist, that turned into a racial brawl, killing a counterprotester. Talk to them about racial profiling. Teach them about the murders of Trayvon Martin , Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and the many other black men and women who were killed and received no justice. Lastly, show them our current political climate and the racism that exist in the leadership of our country.
Show them that the same injustices that Dr. King experienced are happening today and it impacts us all.
Afterward, let them know that they are the future generation. And they are the ones that will lead our country. They are the ones that will use the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as an example of how to fight for equality and the rights of the people in our country. And they are the ones that will be charged with keeping Dr. King’s dream alive to bring about change.