Martin Luther King Day has never meant more to me than it does today, as we celebrate it for the 30th time. I’ve said this before, but I can’t help repeating myself. With commercialization eroding our major holidays, I love the lesser ones more and more.
I have vivid memories of April 4, 1968, the day that King was assassinated. I was a junior in college and attended the campus memorial service with an English professor who had chosen me to be her student assistant.
The national holiday was first celebrated in 1986, which was my 16th year of teaching. Yes, I am old, and sometimes my memory plays tricks on me. I think I remember at least one year when the public schools didn’t close for the day.
Whether or not it was on the exact day, I do remember teaching King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in my English classes. Certainly my colleagues in social studies were doing the same, but my approach was different. I encouraged my students to reflect on it as a work of spoken literature and to try to appreciate the poetry of its language as well as its content.
If you have 17.5 minutes to spare, you might enjoy doing the same. Listen for the imagery, for the parallelism, for the cadences. If you have time, here’s a link to the speech.
When you have more time to spare, I urge you to see this film.
I saw it Friday and cannot recommend it highly enough. I was even more impressed this morning when I learned that the cast had assembled in Selma yesterday to recreate the march depicted in the film.
At the very least, please enjoy one of my favorite Martin Luther King quotes.
And whatever the day brings you, take a moment to appreciate your freedom.