Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Published on Monday, January 9, 2012 - 8:01pm
Happy New Year everyone! As we commit to making changes to better our own lives during the next year, our thoughts can turn to those of community betterment and making the world better for people less fortunate. This was the message of Martin Luther King Jr.
We celebrate King's life, and when I do programs with little ones, I always make sure to show a video clip of Martin's "I Have a Dream" speech. Even children too young to understand the meaning find his voice and presence captivating. To older children, the words are hopeful, and it seems that even though Reverend King was shot, the story has a sort of happy ending in how far we have come today. My favorite book that helps tell Dr. King's story to children is "Martin's Big Words," by Doreen Rappaport. It uses direct quotes and asks children in simple terms to think about what the words would have meant to someone with his experiences. The illustrations are by the fabulous, local illustrator, Brian Collier, and use collage and paint to create a multidimensional effect. The dominant visual theme is stained glass windows of a church, creating a stately and reflective vibe.
As an adult, in my mind is his last speech was the most interesting. The prophetic "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" seems to foretell his death and, at the same time, instruct future civil rights leaders on a more militant stance. The book "Orders to Kill," by James Pepper, was written in the mid 1990s and focuses on the details of Dr. King's assassination. Pepper, who was active in the civil rights and antiwar movements in the 1960s, served as chief counsel for James Earl Ray, convicted on a guilty plea, without a trial of the April 4, 1968, for the assassination of Dr. King. Through this book, Pepper has tried to bring to judicial and public attention new evidence, which suggests strongly that Ray was merely a patsy in a government assassination plot.
We invite you to visit us at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library this month and check out our large collection of books on Dr. King.