Martin Luther King Jr. Rises. Will You?

As the heckler’s rock struck Dr. King in the head, he fell to one knee. Staring at the ground, the crowd waited. What would their leader do? Give in to fear? Or rise up and continue?

He stood tall and continued to lead the march. It was August 5, 1966 and Martin was in an all-white neighborhood of Chicago protesting housing discrimination.

Now, when he was struck he could have retaliated with anger. He could have flung that stone right back.  But Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of peace. Of God. And he had a wisdom so often lacking today.

He knew.

We teach by example.

Just a few days later he withstood blistering summer heat to speak at a rally in the city’s football stadium. There in Soldier Field he spoke of how tired African-Americans were often living in rat-infested slums, and being lynched physically in Mississippi, and  spiritually and economically in the North.

No hatred in his words. No vitriol. No dividing lines.

But he did draw lines in the sand. On one side was the dream of equality and justice. The other side racism, malevolence, and suffering.

sand

We have that power today. We can reach out hands to those who are different from ourselves in friendship or use them to fling rocks at the innocent and righteous.

I, for one, choose friendship.

Who is with me?

 

 

(Source: Time Magazine “The Suprising Story Behind This Shocking Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Under Attack.”)

Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now’s Post

~ The Power of Words ~ It is impossible to listen to the news and not be struck by the way words are being used to cover up hateful actions and outright lies by our leaders and politicians. Words are powerful as Martin Luther King knew. The 2002 Caldecott Honor children’s picture book Martin’s Big…

via Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now

Social Justice in the Classroom

Looking for more resources on social justice in language teaching? Check out the Social Justice Warriors webpage and the library of resources they have on advocacy, anti-racist classrooms, multilingualism, and other topics. Leave a comment with your recommended link! Source: Social Justice Warriors.Language Educators.Stop the Deficit.

via Social Justice in Language Education Resources — Language for Peace Forum

Why We the People Should Never Forget

We the people…

Beautiful words.

Like open arms ready to

Envelop all citizens.

Of the United States 

United, united, united?

In order to form a perfect union.

A union.  Not dissolution of the different.

Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility.

Tranquil? Really?

Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,

Caring for others. Because they are human.

and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. 

Security from the Founding Fathers. Who knew just what a blessing liberty is.

Do ordain this Constitution. 

Thank you to the fifty-five delegates of 1787 who spent 116 days in a hot, stuffy hall writing draft after draft. We the people…your posterity.. use them to guide us in times of light and dark .

We the people…

Are we Really so Different?

Are you shocked by the daily hatred spewed against the thems?  Do the divisions in our country sadden and frighten you ? Like me, are you a dreamer who is wondering what has happened to people’s hearts?

Then why don’t we examine what it means to be different. Or the same. I differ from you, how? Let’s see. It could be my political party, what region of the country I live in, the church I go to, the shade of my skin or hair, who I want to marry. Those are the sorts of things that seem to be dividing our nation big time.

But I think they’re pretty friggin’ arbitrary. To begin with, my family is made up of many political parties; Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and even a Libertarian or two.   I love each of them no matter how they vote behind the curtain. And I’ve found I don’t even agree with everything people in my own party say and do. There are some things they propose or some personal actions that give me pause.   Second, I live on the Central Coast of California but does that mean I’d say to my Washington friends, “Mt. Ranier? No way. It’s Whitney or no mountain at all.” Or to  Texans, “Can’t hang with you. Your state is shaped like a weird pancake.”

Of course not, it’s silly!

How about the church, synagogue, mosque, or the open field people choose to pray in? If I see them walking into those doors, or, if they choose, skipping the trip, I don’t say I’ll never walk with them again. Their spirituality is between them and their God. Same goes for shades of skin and hair. Mine change with how much time I’m in the sun and how many trips I make to the hair dresser. But I sure as Hell don’t trade my friends from season to season depending on whose skin  shade more closely matches mine. Now it’s winter and I’m pale, I think Myrtle and I match  but OMG  when summer comes I’m only going to do drinks with tan Zelda. 

globe hand

Or who I want to marry? I married a man, (GASP!) but was still in school. Had to take classes after the wedding and finish my degree. But I haven’t noticed anyone shunning me for School Marriage.

The ways we are different are as myriad as life itself; birthday and time, address, social security number, how many hangnails on our left hands, height, weight, job, education, how much money is in our bank accounts, family make-up, favorite food, house color, car make, piercings, pets, music tastes of who rocks and who sucks, creative outlets…And it goes on and on.

But look at how we are the same. Every human being needs love. In fact without love, life itself cannot exist. Studies have found time and again that babies will fail to grow and thrive or even die without those kind words of assurance and gentle touch. We all need sustenance, shelter, and family. We all can become ill, injured, or healthier. We all have faces longing to be seen. We all seek a sense of worth.

painted sky

We all have an immense capacity for love. Let’s honor that part of us that is the same, and maybe the petty differences will begin to fade away.

Honoring the Constitution

Every day I begin my class with a flag salute and a discussion of the Constitution. I tell my fifth-graders how great our nation is because we have Freedom of Speech, Assembly, Religion, Press, and the ability to redress grievances to our elected officials. That each and every one of them is a precious citizen.

I say, “No matter what your background in this country, you have equal rights under the law.”

But on Thursday one student asked, “But aren’t some religions illegal?”

I looked at him, confused. “No, of course not.”

Another child raised her hand. “Yes, Ms. Woodward. Those terrorist ones. I saw it on the news.”

Then I realized what the kids were thinking. I started to say that it was impossible, the Constitution was the highest law of the land, even if someone said that on the news, it couldn’t really happen.

My class looked at me doubtfully. That’s when I realized that maybe they were right. Perhaps someone was trying to deny certain people equality. And it gave me a sick feeling deep in my  heart.

I am a patriot. I love America. To me the Constitution is one of the most inspirational documents of all time. One worth fighting for. We must continue to say, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I believe these ideals should guide our choices as educators and citizens. Keep the Constitution safe. For our children.