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I saved the Martin Luther King Day projects my daughter Hope did in kindergarten last year. For one, they are endearing. There’s the construction paper portrait of King with crazy huge eyes, or her best-penmanship statement at age 5 that she dreamt of a world where people wouldn’t litter.
But I’ll also save these — and future MLK Day projects — ?because they chronicle my daughter’s emerging understanding of challenging topics. What will she understand about King’s legacy at age 8, 10, or 15?
Last month, we explored an outdoor MLK art installation in San Francisco. There were King quotes etched in stone and photos of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
“Do you remember who that is?” I asked her. She nodded, but had 6-year old questions.
“Mommy, what is he saying in this picture? Was this the day he died? Why did someone kill him? He just wanted people to be equal — right?”
She played on the wall as I responded, but she was listening. Before leaving, she agreed to a picture. When I asked her to smile (force of habit), she shook her head, adding “It should be a serious picture.” True.
Yesterday, MLK day came up again.?“Mommy, you know about Arthur Looper King, right?? He was killed by that man shooting everybody because he drank too much!”
Huh. I guess MLK lesson + ?first grade recess chatter = revisionist history.? The good news? They’re interested. ?So last night, our family watched the “I have a Dream” speech video. Hope was transfixed. With King’s emotional final words — ?”thank God almighty we are free at last!” — she leapt up screaming “yeah!”
Here are 4 useful MLK and MLK Day resources:
1. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University?offers a?broad range of activities “illuminating the Nobel Peace laureate’s life and the movements he inspired.” Check out The King Papers Project and MLK speech recordings, including the iconic 1963 “I have a Dream” speech.
?2) Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service,?Corporation for National and Community Service, offers resources for?getting kids involved in service projects that strengthen communities and creatively tackle social problems. Included: toolkits for planning service projects and a searchable database of regional projects.
3) The King Center was established in Atlanta in 1968 by Coretta Scott King as “a living memorial” committed to the causes for which MLK lived and died. Their?Digital Archive?houses over one million MLK related documents. Check out the “glossary of non-violence” and a “Dreams” link where you can post your dreams for social change.
4.? Teacher Vision.com?K-12 teachers will find many useful?MLK Day resources here, plus a?link to an inspiring video of fourth graders recreating the ?“I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 2011.