Why Don’t We All Celebrate MLK Jr. Day?


martin-luther-king-quotes-educationWe moved to a tiny village north of the city shortly before our daughter started 8th grade.  It was the first year she attended school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  When she asked why it was not considered a holiday, like it was for her friends in the city, she was told it was because, “we don’t have many black kids who go here”.  The next year she was given the same answer by another teacher.  I shuddered at the message that children in her class took away from that statement.  Would they ever know that Martin Luther King Jr. championed equal rights not only for black people, but for all people?  For us it provided an opportunity to discuss people’s prejudice and Dr. King’s message of equal opportunity for people of every economic status.  Dr. King recognized the inconsistencies between classes, the lack of opportunity for children in poorer neighborhoods and the discrimination faced daily by those considered less-than.  Dr. King’s dream was inclusive of all people.  We talked about compassion, even for educated people who are still ignorant, and our responsibility to speak up.  And so my child went to school armed with “my Mom said I can tell you that you are wrong” the second year.  You never know if risking your neck for a truth will make a positive difference, especially when you are only twelve, which is what makes it a brave action.  Brave action is what changes the world.

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