Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I always begin Black History month with the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. This year I did things a bit differently with my classes. I read my brother Martin- A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Christine King Farris with two classes and “You Can Be Like Martin? - A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (poem) by Mildred D. Johnson to my other two classes.
Some of my students were familiar with the book, my brother Martin. Dr. Martin Luther King’s older sister is the author of this delightful book, and it tells about Martin’s early childhood. Details are written about his relationship with his family, growing up in the segregated South, and his urge to make a change even at such a young age. As I read, I demonstrated two important ways of reading actively: connecting/relating to the reading and questioning. For example, in the book Martin spends much time with his grandmother due to his parents working. I ask my students how many of them could relate to that? Most of them could. Throughout the book Martin is portrayed as a normal, young boy playing pranks on people and playing outside with his friends. Martin asks his mother one day, “why do white people treat colored people so mean? His mother responded, “ because they just do not understand that everyone is the same, but someday, it will be better.? Martin responded, “Mother Dear, one day I’m going to turn this world upside down.? We than began to discuss exactly how he did that. But this also let my students know that they are capable of making big changes too. I wanted my students to know that Dr. King was once a child just like them, he encountered problems just like them, and he wanted to do something about them.
My other class discussed the poem “You Can Be Like Martin?-A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Mildred D. Johnson. We discussed the following important points: why was it important for Dr. King to demonstrate peacefully and promote non-violence, why was it is so important for him to read and speak his mind, and why should we all have dreams? We had an interesting conversation, and they had so many misconceptions and misunderstandings. The conversation eventually led to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. One of my students, Marise, commented that Dr. King would be proud of both Obama and Hillary, because we have never had a African American nor female President.
Both classes responded to our discussions in their electronic journals.