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African-American history facts

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MLK Jr
Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC
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Tips for Educating Children About the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This January, our nation celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, in honor of Dr. King.  Ironically, because this day has become a recognized federal holiday, with the majority of schools and federal businesses closed, public schools often neglect to include in depth classroom lessons, African-American history facts or other pertinent information about the life of Dr. King in curriculums.

I was taken by surprise on January 15th when a neighbor’s elementary school-age child informed me that he had the day off from school because of “some holiday.”  When I inquired as to the name of the holiday, he shrugged and told me he couldn’t remember. 

Parents hoping for their children to be well informed about African-American history facts, including the life and significance of Dr. King, may realize that they can not necessarily rely on the public schools to teach this information.





Parents seeking to educate their children about African-American history facts should begin by visiting a local library to obtain biographies, videos, and books about Martin Luther King. Many of these materials contain powerful messages, and parents will be well served to make time for questions, reflections and family discussion about the information.

It is important for parents to provide accurate African-American history facts, beginning with an in depth explanation of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s.   Parents can help children to relate to the movement by asking them to reflect on times or situations in their own life where they felt they were treated unfairly.  Personal reflection should be followed with a basic explanation that African Americans were treated unfairly due to the color of their skin. 

Children should be informed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against racial inequality by organizing many peaceful demonstrations in protest.  The most critical African-American history facts children should be aware of are key dates:  Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1964, he delivered the “I have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and that he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Parents may wish to obtain a copy of the recorded footage from Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream Speech”, to show their children on home television.  Parents should explain that this speech signified a defining moment of the historic Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

A parent’s commitment to teaching children about the Martin Luther King holiday can have a major impact on how a child comes to regard African-American history facts.  Ultimately, a parent’s attitude and treatment of people of different skin color is the most vital factor in shaping the next generation of children.

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