Today is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.
Every year, my town’s Youth Foundation puts on an MLK Day event, and each year, all of the schools participate by making a poster celebrating Dr. King, Civil Rights and Peace. This year was no exception. What was unique was the I had a conversation with my fellow teachers during the week we were making our posters. I’d been having a bit of difficulty figuring out how I wanted to approach the subject with my students, and what I wanted to make certain they gained from the experience. In an effort to help me, a fellow teacher asked, “Well, what do you take from Martin Luther King?”
It seems such an obvious question, but I suppose I hadn’t thought about it much before. However, as soon as the wheels started spinning, it became obvious to me.
Last week, I saw Lincoln (WITH MY ADORABLE, PERFECT LITTLE BROTHER–*rolls eyes* Yes, with my brother). I’ve long been hoping for a docudrama about this much-beloved president, and I can’t say that it disappointed. It’s an excellent movie. Daniel Day Lewis perfectly captures the Lincoln I pictured (and heard) in my head. More than that, though, it was a movie that made me Think. It made me Think about slavery, about US History, and about Civil Rights. Given the direction of my thoughts, it was impossible for me not to make the link between Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., especially since I knew I’d be discussing the latter with my students during the week.
So, what do I take from men (and women) like Martin Luther King? I think that what makes MLK–and Lincoln, because he figured largely in my Thoughts–so amazing isn’t what they fought for, but that they fought in the first place. Neither man waited for someone else to do the fighting for them. Neither man was afraid to stand up for what was right, even if it made them wildly unpopular. How many people are brave enough to do that? How often are you forced to make decisions that have no clear answer–especially ones that will affect not merely the people closest to you, but hundreds of thousands of people you’ll never meet or know?
That’s why I didn’t want to let Martin Luther King Day pass without notice, not even here on this blog. Even if all you do today is read this post, I’ll have succeeded in my goal. But–I hope you’ll stop–even if it’s just for a second–to remember the heroes who stood up for what was right, who did not wait for justice, and whom we should never forget.
Thanks for reading.
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