My daughters know we'll be watching Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech on YouTube. They also know to watch Mama, because every year, at some point, I will get tears in my eyes. It's different every time. I just get swept up in the emotions of that day, the power of Dr. King's lyrical speech, delivered with the beauty of his booming Southern voice.
Seriously, is there a more poetic, more memorable speech in history? Maybe there is, and I just have never read/heard it. (And quite possibly, I am a little partial.) Please tell me you have watched his speech, and recently. If not--here, I'll post it here. Please watch it! And watch it with your kids, pausing along the way to explain some of Dr. King's references and examples.
There are 2 qualities about this speech, this man, that I hope to point out to our daughters. First, even in the midst of horrific wrong-doing, Dr. King encourages the peace and forgiveness of the Bible he preaches. He had every right to incite anger and retribution, yet he chose peace. Second, when faced with 2 difficult choices--to organize and fight against the wrong with physical force, or to lay down and take it--he chose Choice #3. Like Dr. King and so many other Civil Rights leaders showed us, sometimes the clear-cut decisions are not always so clear-cut. Sometimes a better, more creative answer is out there--like the Montgomery bus boycott.
Just because I cannot help myself, here are some of my favorite lines:
"We've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand, the riches of freedom and the security of justice."
"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom from the cup of bitterness and hatred."
"Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
"No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
"...unearned suffering is redemptive."
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
To help our girls gain a better perspective of the world Dr. King talks about in his speech, I thought it would be helpful to watch a movie. Now, most of the segregation movies are not at all appropriate for our young girls. However, I found a movie about the true story of the pint-sized hero Ruby Bridges on YouTube. All of the movie is posted on YouTube--in 9 parts. We're going to pop some popcorn, and watch this movie today.
If you don't have time to watch the whole movie (and I hope you do, because it is wonderful!)--PLEASE watch at least Parts 1 and 2. Part 2, when tiny Ruby walks through the yelling, angry crowds, will break your heart, and will provide some great topics to discuss with your kids.
I cannot imagine what sweet little Ruby's mama felt that day, as she walked her daughter through that hostile environment. People screaming horrible things to her innocent daughter. I know she wanted to protect her from the ugly world. But, because of the Rubys of the world, the Williejeans and Terrences, segregation slowly ended--one brave student at a time.
Happy Martin Luther King Day! May we all look back not upon an ugly past, a shameful past--but may we be inspired as we look back. Inspired by the heroes, from great ones with booming voices like Martin Luther King, to pint-sized little ones, who didn't even understand the towering stand she was making as she walked into school each day. May we teach our children about the character of these heroes, so that when the time comes, they may take a stand for good. That our children might be emboldened to stand against the evil in the world. And, that they might stand up and put an arm around those who are not able to stand.
At least, that's my dream for my children on this holiday... How about you?
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." -Ephesians 6:12