More than just a day off from work, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an inspirational time to gather with your children and educate them about the importance of Civil Rights Leadership and standing up for what is just and right. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 due to his outstanding approach to advancing civil rights, Martin Luther King changed the United States and the world at-large with his non-violent resistance to achieve equal rights for Black Americans. He faced fear and outrage head on and was responsible for writing one of the most famous speeches of all time, "I Have a Dream."
Reflecting on Dr. King’s achievements as well as his heartaches serves as an important teaching opportunity for our children. Enjoy a day of togetherness with your family teaching them the importance of serving others while honoring Martin Luther King with these suggestions.
1. Volunteer your time. Dr. King famously insisted, "Everybody can be great - because anybody can serve." Ask your children for suggestions on who could use your help today as a way to further instill his message. Examples include aiding an animal shelter, cleaning up trash at your local park, organizing a food donation benefit, or helping each other with chores at home. Take time to serve others.
2. Make cards for isolated seniors. One of Martin Luther King’s prominent messages focused on the power we gain when we are connected. Remind your children about the importance of taking care of others by making cards for those who feel alone, scared, and abandoned. Reach out to local assisted living homes for delivery - many are so grateful for cards.
3. Plant a tree as a living tribute. Dr. King also emphasized the Greek proverb, "Society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit." Talk to your children about the importance of taking care of the community and environment while thinking about the needs of future generations.
4. Encourage your children to discuss their dreams. When we believe in them, dreams become our intention and guide our actions. They give us focus and motivate us to complete goals that bring us closer to attaining our dreams. Let each child talk about their dreams of improving the world.
5. Read a book or watch a movie about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Discuss the importance of reaching out and including others regardless of the color of their skin with your children. Choose books or movies that highlight anti-racism and social justice to instill your values and their importance. Examining these issues leaves a powerful positive impact on them throughout their adolescent years.
Celebrating Martin Luther King is an honor. He altered the way the world understood inclusion, civil rights, and how the intention of one man filled with faith and respect for his belief in the dignity of all people can change society. Reflecting on his life and accomplishments is reason to celebrate.