When my kids ask about Martin Luther King Jr. – I feel extremely embarrassed. I absolutely HATE telling them that not so long ago, black children could not even attend the same schools OR drink from the same water fountain OR sit in the front of the bus OR ……. ABSOLUTELY embarrassing to try to explain this to my kids. They are completely baffled on how people could have even thought that AND acted on those crazy beliefs just because of a different color skin. So CRAZY and ignorant.
When I was teaching, we would be talking about Martin Luther King Jr. and it was the same uncomfortable conversation of trying to explain such bigotry and hatred. A good activity we did to show how completely ridiculous people are when they are racist was the “Arm Test.” I would have all the kids put their hands in a circle on the table. Then I would say the whitest arm is the smartest and best and then we would keep going until the darkest arm was last. The kids really could see how absolutely ridiculous such thinking was AND is today.
Another good activity is to give each of your students a lemon or apple. Let them describe it. Some will describe the size, color, and/or any dents or bruises. Put all the lemons or apples back in a pile. Each student will be able to identify their own lemon very easily. Now have them peel it and put them back in the pile. All the same.
Then we start talking about what a great and incredibly brave man Martin Luther King Jr. was and they start to see how extremely important this man was to the whole world. He was not afraid to stand up for something that was so horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust. Such a HERO.
Thank you Martin Luther King Jr.!