Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was many things in his lifetime. He was a minister, activist, author, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient; but above all, he was a teacher. He taught us the importance of dreams, the value of education, and the power of perseverance. Dr. King’s legacy has changed the course of history drastically, and we can continue to learn countless lessons from his work, especially today.
Though Dr. King’s work within the Civil Rights Movement generated monumental strides in the fight for equality, we continue to face challenges of racial injustice and division within our society today. In facing issues as preeminent as these, it is imperative to educate not only ourselves, but the people around us – just as Dr. King did. One way to start is by studying both the history and relevance of MLK’s work. Andrew Ujifusa emphasizes the importance of teaching history in stating,
“When the nation feels not just divided, but divided in an unprecedented way, studying history serves as a guide. A nation that can see through and place the turbulent present in historical context is better empowered to grasp the present and decide on the best course of action ahead.”
Continuing The Legacy
While educating your students on the history of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is important, it does not stop there. We must continue to take strides in being active within our communities. In Dr. King’s paper titled “The Purpose of Education”, he states: “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” And what is character, if not standing united against injustice for the betterment of our society? Patrice Hatimer from The Western Reserve Historical Society puts it like this:
“We continue to face the challenge of gaining civil rights for all, and like Dr. King, we have to understand the impact of working together to push for one common goal… This only means we have more work to do. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday appointed as a national day of service to motivate and inspire everyone to volunteer to help improve their communities. This is a creed that all Americans should be striving for and carrying with them every day to honor Dr. King and his legacy, so that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can be within every American’s reach.”
So as we celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and continue to honor his legacy in working toward a better tomorrow, let us keep one thing in mind: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
Education and Volunteer Resources
- For younger students, enjoy the educational and heart-warming movie Our Friend, Martin or a short video on The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Kid President.
- Educate older students with a video on the biography of MLK, or read and annotate some of his most renowned speeches and letters.
- Browse through lesson plans at https://www.civilrightsteaching.org/teaching-martin-luther-king-jr
- Explore more resources, project ideas, and tips to participate in MLK Day of Service 2022 at https://www.americorps.gov/newsroom/events/mlk-day/mlk-day-resources.
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