This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Monday, January 18. While all of our children are thrilled with the day off school, most probably don’t understand all of the reasons behind it. This year, let’s take the time and make the effort to educate all of our teenage children on the numerous contributions that Martin Luther King Jr. made to society. Although younger children might not grasp the scope of his impact, your teenagers can stand to benefit from learning about the influential activist.
King was a Baptist minister by trade, but more importantly, he was one of the most successful social activists of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1950s, King fought tirelessly for monumental change in American civil rights. Your teens are probably already familiar with major events in American civil rights history, like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, but they might not realize that Martin Luther King Jr. was the driving force behind each of them. King used nonviolent means of protest to inspire change in the U.S.
King’s legacy lives on in a variety of ways. U.S. citizens are reminded each and every day of his hard work through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both pieces of legislature were instrumental in achieving equality for African Americans and other minorities. In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. To honor him, the U.S. declared the third Monday of every January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Take the time to teach your children about the meaningful impact Martin Luther King Jr. had on this country, and eventually, the rest of the world. Here are five ways to remember King this year:
1. Visit a museum
One of the best places to learn about history is a museum. On holidays that celebrate the achievements of an individual, it’s perhaps even more true. Look into your local museum to see what kinds of activities and exhibits are available on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s likely there will be a special exhibit on display around the holiday celebrating his life. Take your children to the museum and make a day of it.
2. Attend a library program
In the same vein, libraries are another good place to go if you’re looking for a place to teach your kids about historical figures like King. Some libraries may have educational programs that feature guest lecturers who have an extensive knowledge of civil rights. Look at your local library’s schedule on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Since it is a national holiday, it’s a good idea to make sure the library is open before you head that direction.
3. Hang a wreath
There’s never a bad time to hang a wreath on your doors, but this January you can add meaning to hanging a wreath by doing so to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Since the holiday occurs in January, include January flowers (carnations) in the wreath. You and your children can pick one out or assemble it yourself, and you should definitely hang it together.
4. Watch a documentary
An easy way to educate your kids about King from the comfort of your own home is to find a documentary for them to watch. Check your local TV listings to see what’s airing that Monday or head to a local library to borrow a documentary yourself.
5. Volunteer with a civil rights group
While you shouldn’t limit your volunteer work to one day a year, doing it with a civil rights group on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an effective way to remember him. Explore different options in your own community and do some volunteer work as a family this year. Volunteer Match and Equal Rights Center are both great place to start your search.