Conversation Starters with Our Children about Martin Luther King Day

For the majority of non-African Americans, Martin Luther King Day is not discussed with children.  Kids often have the day off school, and for many children, they do not know the significance of the life they are celebrating.  This is a lost opportunity to educate the future generation on the importance of diversity and inclusion.

I am white and I live in a largely white suburban community in the Midwest.  I have been a part of this problem. Since facilitating diversity and inclusion conversations with adults, I have begun to learn of the deeper roots planted at younger ages.  I never had a conversation about race with my mother. Despite her best efforts, she grew up in a segregated era and did not have the tools herself to facilitate a conversation.  Now, as a parent, I am following her lead. And, that is wrong.

I, like many allies, am a white ally in training.  I always have more to learn. For much of my life, I thought it was not my place as a white person to explain black history as though it was just for blacks to explain.  It is US history, not just black history. Having a white history month would be absurd (since it is every month). As an ally, I do not have to know what it is like to be black in America, but I have a duty to be curious and evoke curiosity in my child. 

As it turns out, upon some simple Google searching, there are a lot of allies dedicated to this cause.  This year, I strive to be a better ally. I am starting this dialogue with my five-year old child.  

Here are some ideas for you to talk about MLK Day with your kids:

  • The King Center provides lesson plans on the knowledge, skills and dispositions students need not only to be positive contributors to creation of the “Beloved Community” aligned with Dr. King’s vision
  • The infamous “I Have a Dream” speech is a great conversation started to facilitate a discussion about what it means and why his leadership was important 
  • Go to a local celebration to honor Dr. King’s life (parade, community event, etc.)

This is just one of the conversations we need to be having with our children about diversity and inclusion.  That is why Simone Morris and I have launched a new podcast dedicated to helping parents, educators, and caregivers have brave conversations about diversity and inclusion with children.  

Learn more about Inclusion School at InclusionSchool.com.  Our first episode expands on the Martin Luther King Day conversation and we have a full page of resources to support you.

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