Pictured Above: A statue from MLK Jr National Park: “Behold! the only thing greater that yourself!”
Do you remember when you were a teenager: When we all thought we knew everything? We had lived 17 or 18 years and had spent most of that in school. We knew history and how to write papers and maybe even a foreign language. Fast forward about 5-10 years. Do you know everything now? Probably not. As we grow we start realizing there is a whole lot more to that “story” in history class and as we interact with the world, we also realize that there is a whole lot we don’t even know we don’t know about….everything.
My kids and I have been going down the rabbit hole of the civil rights movement. We had the privilege to go to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Park in Atlanta as part of our educational vacation recently and it was inspiring. My school aged kids are 8, 10, and 11, so while they are starting to learn about this cruelty in the world, I had to keep this lesson light. because the content is heavy. We had been studying MLK Jr. and learning about the marches in Selma. We touched on vocabulary like prejudice and stereotypes and watched child friendly versions of stories about the four little girls who died in the church bombing. As I watched these films and read about Dr. King and listened to his speeches, I became inspired. I have never felt so deeply moved by history but to listen to Dr. King speak, I could understand why so many people followed him. Fifty years later, my eyes are welling up in tears as I listen to his blessed words and I watch these people prepare and then march into battle for equality. Because they were at war; although somehow they had the fortitude to abstain from violence. A worthy lesson for children who live for retaliation against siblings.
This unit has been incredibly moving and has made me examine my own prejudices I have developed over the years about many types of things. It’s not just a black and white issue, it’s a human issue, an issue of morality and it demands that we look into the self to scrutinize our beliefs and our behaviors. We all have prejudices of one sort or another. We make prejudgments and we stereotype others. It’s actually a very basic part of survival, to size up your environment and make assumptions about it. But we can change the way we see our world and change the way we think about it and interact with it.
Not only have I been reevaluating myself but I have been deeply moved while getting an education too I knew about the civil rights movement and the church bombing but I never really thought about the courage, the fortitude, and the conviction that these people had to fight such a cruel and unjust way of life. So many people are standing up for something these days that protests just seem like something to do. But in my humble opinion, nothing has ever been so dire, so shamefully wrong, and so necessary and worthy of fighting for as the basic right to go where one pleases, to go to an equal school, or to live a life without harassment for being born in dark skin. I am deeply moved by the Civil Rights Movement and never dreamed that homeschooling my kids would permeate my own education as an adult. I am so grateful for the experience my children and I have shared in learning together and I have a deep appreciation for the people involved in the Civil Rights Movement and for the nameless men and women who are fighting for our rights today whom we don’t know, but are carrying the torch for equality and peace!
I have attached the resources I used in this unit.
Who was Martin Luther King Jr. This links to the amazon page but we borrowed it from our library to read.
Selma, Lord, Selma this takes you to the IMDB description of the movie.
The Watsons go to Birmingham also an IMDB link. This is a book but we since I teach through 3 different grade levels, I have to try to make it useful for everyone but my older boys said the movie is very similar to the book. We are also reading..
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry , which I read in fourth grade. we are currently listening to an audio book in the mornings during art etc.
As far as adults, I highly recommend that you watch Selma
It is a very moving movie. We are not done with our unit as we will continue to go down the rabbit hole. There are many resources and people to continue to learn about such as Gandhi, and I even plan on touching on slavery with the new Harriet Tubman movie. I have been using movies a lot because right now they are discovering this history. In the future things might get more academic, but I would never want history to be boring, so until then…..