Here are some great lessons for kids from MLK Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most influential social activists in the civil rights movement in the United States. His legacy lives on. Without the influence of MLK Jr., basic civil rights for black Americans and other marginalized groups of people of color would not have been so successful at the time. Dr. King was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929, living in an affluent black community.
At the time, Jim Crow-era laws and segregation were in full effect. Ferris State University has a full explanation of Jim Crow laws and the etiquette black Americans in the South were expected to follow. They were essentially second-class citizens. Jim Crow laws stipulated that black Americans, as well as any other people of color in the southern states of the United States, were to be separated from whites. This was done by deliberately separating the races. It should be noted that the northern states above the Mason Dixon line did not have these segregation laws.
There were separate entrances to theaters and restaurants. Blacks and whites could not use the same water fountain or the same toilets. Laws even segregated neighborhoods and blacks were prohibited from buying homes in white neighborhoods and using facilities in those areas such as schools, swimming pools, gymnasiums, and churches. Bus and train cars were separated by laws requiring black passengers to ride in the back and give their seats to white passengers.
There was a separation that was believed to be necessary based on skin color, and it happened in the southern United States until 1968, just 54 years ago. This story seems a long time ago, but it was not. This racism and these acts of segregation are in living memory. Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 and never lived long enough to see the effects of Congress’s passing of Congress. Civil Rights Act of 1964 which legally prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Before that, Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark Supreme Court case which allowed a young black girl to attend an all-white school was a huge success for the black community motivating the fight for civil rights. King was thrust into the national spotlight during the Montgomery bus boycott where MLK Jr. was living at the time. When the 1955 bus boycott began with Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus to sit down, Martin Luther King Jr was chosen as the movement’s spokesperson because of his intelligence, his position in the community and his work as a pastor.
The way MLK Jr. wanted to protest was peaceful and there was a point to that. He followed the words and lessons of Mahatma Gandhi. According to Story, Dr. King wanted organized nonviolent resistance. It’s not because he wasn’t angry, and his followers weren’t angry, they were. It was because he knew that starting violence against Southern whites would not end well. Black people had no rights or power and were regularly harassed and brutalized. The response made no difference. What worked was not reacting or fighting back at all, no matter what was happening. In order to protest against their treatment. Dr. King was the organizer of many silent marches where he and his supporters gathered and marched. That’s it. But it worked.
What happened was significant and horrifying at the same time. Dr. King and his supporters marched calmly as white southerners retaliated violently against peaceful marches and protests. The images ended up in national magazines and showed the rest of the country the violence that was rampant in the South. Images of peaceful protesters being sprayed with fire hoses, attacked by dogs and physically beaten have stunned the nation. Especially the north. He was a catalyst for the civil rights movement and MLK Jr. did it all peacefully. In November 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional.
Never give up
Despite numerous setbacks, MLK Jr. kept his motivation and that of his followers alive. During the Civil Rights March on Washington in August 1963, Dr. King gave his most famous speech, “I Have A Dream”. He expresses with emotion and intelligence his desire to see his children grow up in a world where they will be judged on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin. The speech was delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on the monument erected for President Abraham Lincoln, the president who ended slavery.
This speech was a turning point in the struggle for civil rights and it did not come easily. MLK Jr. never gave up in the face of adversity. A Average blog post also shared another valuable lesson from Martin Luther King Jr. which is that every person is valuable. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave all African Americans the right to vote. HHonor University explains that the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 were a huge success. These acts effectively ended racial segregation in schools and public places. It was a turning point for black Americans in the United States.
Without Martin Luther King Jr., these acts probably would not have succeeded with such rapid success. He was arrested and never resigned. He was beaten and never stopped. MLK Jr. didn’t stop until he was murdered. Too many people depended on him. Laws have been slow to change and be enforced, but have happened slowly but surely.
This can be a lot to manage and understand for our Gen Z kids. This is the most diverse generation yet and the most distant. It is important to keep this history relevant.
Source: Ferris State University, Historicaly-MLK JR, History-Brown c. commission, Howard University, Average
Rosa Parks’ birthday is February 4, and many celebrities took the time to mark the occasion.
About the Author