Library News: The Importance of MLK

Dear ISD Community,

During the month of January, I’ve made a concerted effort to amplify the message and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I began the research workshops in the library, students began the lesson by writing in collaborative groups and listing all the facts and details they knew about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. prior to research. I was not prepared for the distance between what I thought they would know and what they actually did know.

Students wrote:

“MLK was the guy who led slaves to Canada.”

“MLK made/used/found the underground railroad.”

“MLK made a water park in Washington D.C.”

Some students were able to piece together the details of Jim Crow laws and drinking fountains. They all struggled to use the word “segregation”. They could describe it. They could express a sense of outrage that some people were not allowed to have access to drinking fountains because of the color of their skin.

One student squinted her eyes, shook her head, and ask, “Why? That makes no sense! Why couldn’t black people use the water fountain?!” Her sense of dismay was heartening. While the details and the specifics about Martin Luther King Jr. have gone by the wayside, something else has emerged in its place. A sense of justice, accompanied by confusion and outrage at the perceived actions of injustice. To this one particular student, it was incomprehensible that a person of color could not use the same fountain she would use.

In short, my students left me with a sense of hope. When talking about justice and MLK, the students demonstrated a willingness to enthusiastically jump into this research and do specific learning.