Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In Celebration of Black History Month

Schools are usually closed on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. February is Black History Month but many kids are off for a whole week. Luckily there are some well-written books and related resources to take up the slack. One book can easily lead to another; read about the people who took a stand, scan the photos and artwork to get a feel for what it was like to be there and try to understand the culture of the time.

To more fully understand the Civil Rights movement, it helps to know your rights.

There are an overwhelming number of books on MLK,Jr. Where to start? A handful do a terrific job of giving an overview of the significance and impact of his his life.

Recognize his strength of character as a regular person who relied on a strong set of beliefs and those he admired to guide him in his philosophy of nonviolence.

He was not a lone voice. There were many who came before him
who had fought against discrimination and in support of equal rights for black Americans. And there were many, many others who fought along with him. People you might have heard of, like Rosa Parks, and others whose stories are still being told. Among those who did their part to fight for equality were singers, postmen, baseball players, schoolteachers and future Supreme Court Justices.

Dr. King's path was not an easy one to follow. Those who later practiced nonviolence on Freedom Rides got beaten and bloodied for their efforts.

The struggle was taken up on many fronts, including in the public schools. Read some first person accounts and histories of what it was like for kids who dreamed of freedom and fought to be allowed to go to a decent school.

Part of the difficulty came in simply making their voices heard. Most Americans were just living their ordinary lives. The culture of the 1950s and 60s was alive with people writing books, painting and a new kind of music called rock and roll.

Read the books, look at the art, and listen to the music of the time period. They are an important part of history.

Hear the beauty of Dr. King's oratory and the power of his words.

1 comment:

Alison Ashley Formento said...

Excellent post! Our school librarian loved your post, too, especially as many students are doing book reports this month on influential black leaders in American history.