Monday, January 18, 2010

I have a dream that King wrote more than one Speech

(this post was published first in the Sacramento Bee )
The other day my 8th grader, a dedicated and engaged student at Sutter Middle School, came home saying that because of the upcoming Martin Luther King day, they were going to study "the speech" yet again. I asked her, "which speech?" She looked at me blankly, "you know, the speech" and rolled her eyes the way only 8th graders can.

My husband and I said in unison, "he wrote more than one speech." And then we groused, more to each other than to her, again, almost in unison, "couldn't her teacher have them read the Riverside Church speech at least, or, Letter from the Birmingham Jail?"

The truth is that King wrote and spoke thousands of times and much of it is captured somewhere. The King holiday is not a celebration of one march on Washington, but the whole life of this man, his whole body of work. Our public schools do King, our children and our nation a disservice if they try to boil it down to one speech.

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