How and why we celebrate Martin Luther King Day at our school

Ira Cross Jr

I am an elementary educator working in Columbus, Ohio in the US. I have a passion for innovation in education and also for collaboration with teachers, parents, and most importantly students. Working together is the best way to achieve anything, especially in education

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This Friday, 15th January saw us celebrate the imminent Martin Luther King Day. Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is genuine love, caring, and hope that means so much to me. It means that a man saw injustice for some and worked with everything he had to get justice for all. I feel Dr King’s words push me to be a better person and teacher, to work toward my dreams, to make my dreams real. I think some people see his words as a dream he had for only people of colour. I don’t see this. Dr King was a man of the people. He worked tirelessly so that others would be able to live by his selfless interpretation of United States’ Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self evident…

That means it's obvious. It shouldn't take any thought.

...that all men are created equal…

Everyone, not just men, not just white men, not just those in America, everyone. Dr King’s dream pushes me make my dreams become reality. I don't think he intended for us to just dream and do nothing with them.

Two young ladies performing spoken word together.

What’s the point of a dream if you don't work to live it? As a teacher, I sincerely believe in using dreams as an inspiration to make this world better in a way that is unique to whom you are as a person. Dr King was a proponent of equality. He understood that this world needs individuals to come together to create something much greater than he could dream of alone.

"We understand as a school that without diversity we will only get so far."

At Columbus Academy, a place that I am proud to call my school, we strive for diversity. I sincerely feel that we as a school understand that, without diversity, we will only get so far. We are constantly “In Quest of the Best”, so limiting ourselves to only one group of people with similar thoughts, feelings, and dreams will keep us from being the best that we can be.

To celebrate Dr King we came together, with the help of some amazing individuals, to share thoughts and feelings and dreams between grade levels. There were teenagers working with young children. There were smiles and laughs as well as some serious thoughts. You could see the collaboration in what some would call chaos. Students wrote things to thank various people that touch their lives.

This shows promises from Columbus Academy students.

They also worked together to create signs similar to the protest signs of Dr King’s struggle and strife. It was an amazing, organised chaos. Seeing so many different types of people working together, laughing together, thinking together made me happy to see that Dr King’s dream isn't just a dream anymore. With this, I still feel that we have work to do as human beings. We must continue to dive into one another’s diversity and work to understand it so that we can make ourselves as a whole better. I will never know everyone’s struggle completely but I promise that I will continue to do my best to see that I put forth the effort because it will only make this world a better place.

Do you teach your pupils about the work of MLK? Share your experiences below.

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