MLK Day Offers Lessons For Most Occasions

by Duane Nichols on January 18, 2016

Why We Turn Our Thoughts to Martin Luther King Jr.

By Michael M. Barrick, The Appalachian Chronicle, MLK Day 2016

“Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King / and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the Earth. / Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood, that we are bound together / in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong. / We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead. / We are bound and we are bound.” – From James Taylor’s song, “Shed a Little Light” on his “New Moon Shine” album from 1991.

LENOIR, N.C. – Over the weekend during the gathering of a number of friends, one of the folks in the group – a fifth grade teacher – shared that she had a white student ask her last week why we bother celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday. Her answer, which she shared with us, was masterful. In short, she said what James Taylor wrote in the song referenced above, though in her own words. Knowing her as I do, I know her point was made.

When I was teaching in a high school that had approximately 1,400 students, only one of which was black (until he transferred because of relentless bullying), I was often asked the same question. In response, I decided to develop a lesson plan that would enlighten the 15-year-old students I was teaching. The plan was consistent with the topic of “Great Ideas” which we were studying in the literature we were reading, from Leo Tolstoy to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

That young people continue to ask this question is disturbing, but not surprising. It is the culture in which they are being raised. Today, throughout Appalachia (and beyond) scores of businesses, churches and nonprofits owned or run by whites ignore the holiday, requiring their workers to clock in.

The implicit message is clear: Dr. King’s life does not matter. Therefore, we should not be surprised, that 33 years after the federal holiday was signed into law by President Reagan – yes President Reagan! – that there is a movement called Black Lives Matter.

Hence, it seems appropriate to review some key points of the lesson plan I used more than a decade ago. Parts of it follow. Perhaps it will help you understand or explain why we celebrate the life of Dr. King —-

See this:

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See also the comic book (“graphic history”) entitled “March, Book Two” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell at the following:

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