This past Monday, January 15, all of America observed Martin Luther King Jr Day. It is the only national holiday that recognizes the birthday of a citizen that was not a US President. The schools are closed, government offices and many businesses shut down in observance. He might be the most renowned champion of civil rights the country will ever know. Just as Gandhi changed the world’s view of civil rights, his later admirer, Dr. King, fathered it in America.
History is rich in his accomplishments and oratory. What is lesser known is no less fascinating. Dr. King was a brilliant academic from early on. He skipped grades nine and twelve to start college at fifteen. By nineteen, he received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. He understood the role of education as few others did and shared this: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”
He would go on to his doctorate and seminar education applying his intensity to his rhetoric. His oratory stopped crowds into rapt amazement but he was into rhetoric big and small, even concerning the cultural things of his day. A small TV show was aired in the 1960’s -- it ran only a few years and to a small audience. It ended up growing into international fame but the first year it was only a TV series among many called “Star Trek.” A lead cast member, Nichelle Nichols, playing Lieutenant Uhura, was one of the very first lead roles for African-American female actresses. He saw that as a cultural milestone and something on which to build. Nichols was preparing to leave the cast after the first year to continue her music and stage success - Dr. King talked her out of it. He envisioned the casting opportunities for other actors of color and what that could do to change minds and hearts in the bigger culture. She stayed and played her critical role, one she did not know she was a star in outside of TV acting but on the world's stage.
Think intensively is an aggressive mandate for education, not any less so than his other famous dream for others. One of the excellent books on SmartKidzClub.com is “America in the 20th Century” Written by Edward Alan Kurtz. Dr. King is covered with other leaders of the time. It will expand your kids world, and they will love the journey.
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