Our Better Selves

On Monday, let's honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by following his example.

Many years ago, when my son was a middle school student, he won the Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest. I don’t even remember what he wrote about, but I think it was something about how kids should be nice to one another, to speak up when someone is being bullied or treated badly, especially if that person can’t stand up for him or herself. That’s a pretty decent lesson for a seventh-grader to get from Dr. King’s legacy.

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. When my kids were younger, it meant sometimes marching in the parade (often in below-freezing temperatures), sometimes going to hear the oratory winner deliver the “I Have a Dream” speech, sometimes watching the parade or supplementing what they were learning in school. My husband is a much more dedicated MLK Parade watcher than I, and would take the kids even when they were very young.

I hope that all of us can find a few moments to think about Dr. King and to find ways to honor him by following his example. Dr. King had the courage, even at the risk of his own life, to stand up, speak up and do the right thing for those who had no voice. I hope we can model that kind of behavior to our children.

A parade, a speech, a television show, film or a book can be a good conversation starter if you want to talk with your children about Martin Luther King Jr.’s important place in U.S. history.

I recently received a book from a publisher called LITTLE LEADERS: BOLD WOMEN IN BLACK HISTORY by VASHTI HARRISON (Hatchette, 2017). Even though it is not about Dr. King, I think it’s an especially timely book considering the #metoo movement and our president’s recent remarks against people of color. The book includes 40 women, beginning with Mary Jane Patterson, the first black woman in the U.S. to graduate from college. Other African-American women include politicians, athletes, writers, artists, singers and military heroines. The book is especially appropriate for children ages 8 to 12. Websites, books, recordings, films/TV and recommended books by bold women are listed at the end of the book, so readers can learn more about these and other amazing women.

Like Dr. King, the women in this book are inspiring leaders. They used their varied talents to improve the world in some way. And, as my son learned all those years ago, a little willingness to speak up or take action to help others, especially those who cannot speak for themselves, is an important lesson — and something that we can all do.

Editor’s Note: For more information about Tulsa’s MLK Day parade, go to www.mlktulsa.com

Also, to win a copy of “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” by Vashti Harrison, comment on this article or on any TulsaKids social media post that mentions this blog. Winner will be chosen at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.

Categories: Editor’s Blog