On the third Monday of January, schools and other businesses close down in observance of the historic work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. He has significantly transformed education through his activism and works of social justice. Dr. King’s adoption of nonviolent resistance to achieve equal rights for Black Americans increased his popularity as one of the prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement and advocates for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Martin Luther King Day may provide some people with a 3-day weekend, but this holiday represents more than just a vacation. It is a lifestyle. It is a change of mind. It is consistent daily efforts. It is essential that Dr. King’s work is integrated every day and not just only one day per year.
A little more about Dr. King
Dr. Martin Luther King was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 with a Bachelor’s in sociology. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree, Dr. King enrolled in a seminary school in Pennsylvania then pursued his doctoral studies in theology at Boston University.
In 1955, after Rosa Parks made history for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a White male, Dr. King helped lead the bus boycott. Additionally, Dr. King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to implement nonviolent protests against the Jim Crow Laws.
Dr. King believed that practicing nonviolence promotes empathy and ultimately brings communities together. With his diligent efforts in creating equality and equity for Black Americans, the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 were passed.
Dr. King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This statement still holds true today. It is essential that we as an higher education institution, continue to honor and celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Because of his work, we are all able to enjoy the pleasures of obtaining a higher education in one, cohesive space. Dr. King’s efforts should always be implemented in and out of the classroom.
What can we do to keep MLK’s Legacy alive in the classroom?
Cultivate a Loving Community
Dr. King emphasized peaceful protests and operating in love to promote equity and equal rights for the Black community. It is essential that you demonstrate love and safety in the classroom so your students can feel a sense of comfort and belonging. Be vulnerable and human with your students. Don’t be afraid to share your own life experiences, as they may be encouraged to open up and share their experiences. Create a culture of questioning and give students space to voice their opinions and ask questions. It is okay not to know everything.
Get Informed on the Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sex, color, or national origin. Although there are instances where the Civil Rights Act are broken, it is paramount to inform students about this movement to provide them with America’s historical context. Dr. King contributed greatly to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which is why individuals from various backgrounds are able to exist within the same space.
Examine Current Racial and Social Justice Efforts
Unfortunately, the United States continues to struggle with injustice and systemic racism and discrimination. However, there are still activism organizations and efforts being made to improve such challenges. For example, the CITL works to create equity and inclusion in classrooms through instructor consultations and creation of resources. Investigating and analyzing more racial and social justice efforts can give you ideas on how to promote inclusivity in the classroom and inform your students about various policies and laws.
Dr. King’s legacy and values of love an equity is the epitome of how higher education should function. Although we do not live in a perfect, equitable system, there are still may efforts that can be done to create more inclusive spaces for students. Small changes can lead to big changes. Instructors can adopt the values of Dr. King as they help to dismantle oppressive systems. Also, you can work with the CITL if you are having trouble with implementing social justice in your classroom. We are here to help Dr. King’s dream stay alive!
Check out the CITL’s events and workshops to learn more: http://citl.indiana.edu/events
Schedule an Individual Consultation here: http://citl.indiana.edu/consultations/individual