On Monday we will celebrate the birth of an extraordinary human and great American. Most of us are aware of the super human efforts Martin Luther King Jr. made to help bring about justice for the oppressed people of the United States. We are familiar with his dream, “That [his] four children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
He was an exceptional orator and his words resonate well with students. After studying and listening to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” I asked some 8th graders to put into their own words what King was striving for. Here are a few of their surprisingly insightful responses.
Alondra stated, “The steps that Dr. King believes that Americans must take to make the American dream a reality is to change the world into a brotherhood. People have to come to see that no individual can live alone, no nation can survive alone.”
James believes, “King was hoping to fulfill his dream that men of all races, of all nationalities and of all creeds can live together as brothers.”
Taylor thinks, “Dr. King believed that Americans must take legal steps to make his dream a reality.”
“Iridian wrote, “He says that soon all men will sit together at a table of brotherhood because all men are created equal. That everyone will live in freedom and justice one day. That no one will be judged by the color of their skin. That is his dream.”
Steven affirmed, “He is notifying the people that the time to solve the problem of racism is now. It would be bad for the nation to procrastinate on solving this problem. He also states that there will be consequences if minorities do not get their citizenship rights.”
Lauren asserted, “Martin Luther King’s dream was that even Alabama would be transformed into a place where Black and White people can live together in peace and happiness. He dreamt that all the people would see the Lord’s glory and from the people’s faith would come hope to transform our nation into a place where different people can live amongst each other happily.” If you are looking to remember and learn a bit more about one of the most influential visionaries in America and the world, here are a few great reads for the whole family.
Adults will enjoy The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is actually a biography written by Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson. It begins with a forward by Coretta Scott King and takes you through his extraordinary life.
Third graders and up should try I Have a Dream: The Story of MLK by Margaret Davidson. Davidson shows how one man, armed with strong convictions and an excellent education, changed the way African Americans were treated. It puts in plain words King’s philosophy of non-violence.
Very young readers will benefit from, A Picture Book of MLK, Jr. by David Adler. Adler highlights Dr. King’s dream of a world free of hate, prejudice and violence.
To experience his oratory greatness, go to your local library and check out one of the many films on his life and labors or go to, www.youtube.com and search for MLK speeches.
His words of love, hope and freedom have weathered the test of time and we can all benefit from studying, reflecting and acting on his message.
Contact Margaret Lavin at firstname.lastname@example.org.