The past few weeks fourth grade focused our attention and readings on the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is always an emotional few weeks as we approach tough conversations about race, culture, segregation, and discrimination. Subjects and pains that are not cured, as Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech still stands relevant to this day. Although the days of Jim Crow Laws and segregated buses are long gone, discrimination based on race, gender, culture, religion, disability, etc. are unfortunately in our communities.
This year, Dr. King could have turned 90 years old, possibly able to address my students and this country himself. Instead, we are left as a community of parents and educators with the responsibility of pursuing his dream and reminded of the “urgency of now.” Each day we have a responsibility to lift our nation from injustice and to stand solid on the rock of brotherhood.
Making a connection to Dr. King’s speech can be difficult for some students, as the pains of our nation’s history seems to be that of a terrible fairy tale or dark legend. Bringing Dr. King to life, reading through his speech, making connections to our world today, and letting it sink in that these atrocities were happening with our parents/grandparents as witness help students identify these truths. Parents and students were encouraged to have conversations at home. Through these conversations a student in our class learned that his grandmother’s principal took part in one of the many civil rights marches during the 60’s and has since been recognized with the state’s “Diversity Award” in 1998! Stories and testimonies like this allow students to be present within the narratives of our country.
We spent the week working through and analyzing one of Dr. King’s most well known speeches, I Have a Dream. Students took notes on a graphic organizer, highlighting portions of the text that embodied Dr. King’s vision for our nation. Check out our work samples below! We thank our Lord for the impact of civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King. He remains another great example of how powerful His love truly is. I pray that He continue to bless our children with courage and strength to stand against inequality like Dr. King, as they are the leaders of our future!
Ms. Emily Goins, Fourth Grade Teacher