Books -- reading and writing.
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And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day

This piece from today's Christian Science Monitor-- and the picture-- sent me back to my first year of teaching. I was a school librarian at the Harris Street Elementary School in East Point, Georgia. A suburb of Atlanta, in Fulton County-- one of the best counties in the country for novice librarians-- the school's population was entirely white, considerably working class, largely terrific kids. We were under federal order to desegregate at the time, which basically meant the county transferred three of its best, most experienced African American teachers to the school.
But that's another story.

Today I'm remembering the little girl in a class where I shared a book about Martin Luther King. He had been killed a couple of years before, but that day, no one in the group knew who he was. As I explained what he'd done for our country, the little girl's hand went up. "Is he the man whose casket was carried by a mule train?" she asked shyly. She'd watched the funeral with her family and it had made a tremendous impression on her very young mind. Her parents had told her what a great man he was, and she hadn't forgotten what they said, even if she couldn't remember his name.

I suspect no child forgets his name anymore. I often wonder what happened to students of mine who are now old enough to be parents themselves. I hope today that little girl, and her grown-up classmates, are remembering their own stories of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Quotes from Dr. King, from the Christian Science Monitor:

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –Letter from Birmingham Jail
King wrote the "Letter from Birmingham Jail" on April 16, 1963 after being jailed for taking part in nonviolent demonstrations around the city.

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