Those of us who attended public school remember the days when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday approached. There would be a few mentions about his “I Have a Dream” speech and we would learn a few things about how he fought for equal rights for Black people while practicing non-violent tactics. I was in elementary school in the 80’s when his birthday finally became a federal holiday and the only thing that really changed instructionally was that the limited information I shared above about him was shared during his holiday instead of only during Black History Month.
Thankfully, my mother had taught me about Dr. Martin Luther King and his dimension as a person without me having to rely solely on what was shared about him at school or through the media. If you are homeschooling, here are some helpful aspects of his human journey that can be the focus of lessons and activities about Dr. Martin Luther King.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Was Anti-War
On 4 April 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his seminal speech at Riverside Church condemning the Vietnam War. Declaring “my conscience leaves me no other choice,” King described the war’s deleterious effects on both America’s poor and Vietnamese peasants and insisted that it was morally imperative for the United States to take radical steps to halt the war through nonviolent means. –King’s Institute
Before Dr. King was assasinated, he was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam war. He spoke openly and honestly about how war, in general, relied on the lives of those in America who were the most disenfranchised.
2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Believed that Education Has Been Historically Underfunded in America
“The richest nation on Earth has never allocated enough resources to build sufficient schools, to compensate adequately its teachers, and to surround them with the prestige our work justifies,” King added. “We squander funds on highways, on the frenetic pursuit of recreation, on the overabundance of overkill armament, but we pauperize education.” -Dr.Martin Luther King
Dr. King’s words on education still ring true today, more than 50 years later.
3. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Believed in Direct Action + Economic Withdrawal
“Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal…And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy — what is the other bread? — Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town — downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.