How different America may have looked if Martin Luther King, Jr.’s magnanimous life was not brutally cut short. We can only imagine what great causes he would have inspired, and the progress he could have made toward his vision of justice, equality and brotherly love. We can, however, reflect on his words and deeds and share them with future generations.
Children especially grasp his devotion to, and love for, American ideals. I conversed with some 5th graders about MLK’s work and we openly discussed our own visions of equality, freedom and the meaning of brotherly love. I was astounded by their mature, in-depth understanding of King’s message and was grateful they shared their ambitions for themselves, their family, and the world they live in.
Almost all the kids expressed the desire to spend more time with their family and a longing for peace between family members – a response I took to heart as a working parent, and often short-tempered mommy.
There were a few who were blissfully satisfied. Lee said his “family is okay as it is.” Emily announced, “I don’t dream for my family. It is already perfect. I can’t dream of something better.”
Alex took the concept of family global. “One day in Alabama, everyone will hold hands, not just African Americans, but white people too. Freedom, peace, togetherness and love is what he wanted, not fighting. [He] wanted the world to be a family.”
Zach discussed King’s strive for justice. “He wanted to have everything be fair. He didn’t care if you were white or African American. He wanted to have the same schools, bathrooms and other things.”
Nora has lofty aspirations for herself as well as the world. “I dream of becoming an independent woman and inventing a teleporter. I have a dream that the world will one day afford a house for everyone, no matter how poor they are.”
Future financier Brian saw the economic side of King. “I dream that the world [would have] a more efficient economy so people don’t end up poor and having to owe money to other people and the bank.”
Sasha included profound and heartfelt objectives for her school, herself and the world. “I dream that my school would be 100 percent bully-free so I won’t be picked on by classmates again,” she said. “I dream the world would be safer and a better place with no more guns that are made to murder people. There should be a law that guns are only for hunting animals to make food and clothing.”
Taylor is also concerned about bullies. “I have a dream for my school and that is that people will not be bullied because of what they are wearing or how they look.”
One student’s heart-wrenching confession left a strong and lasting impression. “I have a dream that I would eat less and become skinny and that I would not have Asperger’s syndrome and I am always good at school.”
I hope these brave and sincere students have encouraged you to converse with your family, discuss hopes and dreams and strive for peace at home and beyond. Martin Luther King’s words of hope, love and freedom are worth studying, reflecting and discussing and so are the dreams of children.
Contact Margaret Lavin at firstname.lastname@example.org.