Each year on the third Monday of January schools, federal offices, post offices, banks, and many offices across America close to celebrate the birth, the life, and the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. His peaceful means of protest is known as passive resistance. His 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech dealing with peace and racial equality is one of the most powerful speeches in American history. Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.
To honor the civil rights activist with children do some of the activities listed below. Click here to see fun activities and songs we posted last year. Click here for a list of children's books to read to learn about this American hero.
Create a Multicultural Banquet!
One of Martin Luther King Jr.'s greatest achievements was his ability to help Americans appreciate diversity. Celebrate his birthday with an eclectic holiday dinner featuring cuisine from different countries or geographical regions. Serve Puerto Rican rice and beans, Boston clam chowder, a Chinese stir-fry, and a peach pie from Dr. King's native Atlanta. The variations on this theme are endless, and the dinner doesn't need to be time-consuming. You can achieve almost the same effect by stopping for takeout from Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and your local Italian pizza parlor.
If I Could Change the World...
Dr. King was a man committed to making a difference in the world around him. He wanted to see men and women of all races living peacefully with one another. Because he worked hard to make the changes he desired a reality, much of the world felt the impact of his life and work. Today, we still need boys, girls, men, and women committed to making our world a better place.
Ask the children, "If you could change the world, what change would you make?" Remember that Dr. King's work began in his own community. If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, the best place for you to start is in your own neighborhood. Brainstorm a list of five to ten steps you can take immediately to bring about in your own community the change you seek.
How Would Segregation Feel Like to You?
One of the injustices Dr. King fought was segregation. Under segregation, laws kept blacks and whites apart. They were not allowed to attend the same schools or churches, eat in the same restaurants, drink from the same water fountains, or even use the same restrooms.Imagine that similar laws were passed today, preventing people of different races and cultures from living in the same neighborhoods, going to the same schools or churches, working together, and even playing together.
Ask the Children:
1. "How would you feel about these laws? Why?"
2. "How would such laws change your community?"
3. "What percentage of your classmates would no longer attend your school?"
4. "How many friends would no longer be able to attend your house of worship?"
5. "What if your family were forced to move to another neighborhood, change schools, and churches, shop at new stores, and avoid restaurants, parks, and other places you had visited before segregation?"
Have the children write a short story about what this strange new life might be like.
Do you work today? If so, are you planning any activities to honor Martin Luther King Jr.?