Essay written by Allie Blocksom Precht, member of Diversity + Community Engagement Committee
I often (guiltily & too simply) tie Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with his profound quotes and excerpts from his memorable “I have a dream” speech delivered at the March on Washington at our nation’s capital. I recognize this merely condenses his work, impact and memory to a video clip–words on a page or Instagram post where there deserves to be so much more.
There is work I need to do to educate myself about the history of the civil rights movement which includes the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among many other notable figures from Carter G. Woodson to Harry T. and Harriette Moore. During Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s almost 13 years of leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement (1955 – 1968), he was foundational to so much of the progress toward racial equality in America, using the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience. His impact still lives on to this day; I hear the powerful words of Amanda Gorman moving our nation and see the grassroots protests and movements being organized locally and nationally to demand change.
I also know I have a duty to educate my children about this important historical figure as well as the topic of civil rights – in all of its forms. It is as important now as ever that the young people of today are aware of the past–both the stories of celebration and good, but also the real and hard truths that continue to be alive today. I honestly struggle with how to share these things with my young children. I find myself turning to books to help me tell stories of people, events and address topics that can unveil questions that they might have or lead to more discussion. Below are a few books I have come across about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – many of these have ‘Read Aloud’ videos on YouTube as well.
- Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop – by Alice Faye Duncan
- We March – by Shane W. Evans
- Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You – by Carole Boston Weatherford
- March (Trilogy) – by JOHN LEWIS and ANDREW AYDIN
Within the Diversity + Community Engagement Committee, we share current events, recognize historical movements and annual milestones, and put forth topics weighing heavily on our hearts or taking root in our minds. Every week, I find our group sharing how much these mini dialogues spark ongoing self-reflection, action and growth; we hope these posts can do that for every reader within our TNSM community. When I shared this post about remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rachel Lwin shared back with me saying, “This feels like a very honest discussion about teaching our children and ourselves about the civil rights movement…and this speaks volumes about the way American history was treated in our generation of schooling …and also displays so clearly the necessity of teaching our children.”
If any of our posts spark curiosity, reaction or reflection in you, we’d love to hear about it!
Does your family observe a tradition or cultural holiday that you’d like to share with the TNSM community? Do you have a passion for or expertise in a certain area of DEI? The D+CE committee is always looking for books, resources, and classroom speakers to help deepen the cultural competency of our school community.