We're off today, for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Did you know that MLK is one of only four people who have a federal holiday named after them? Trivia for today--name the other three. I'll post the answers later in this blog post.
I'm a big fan of Dr. King. My family had the opportunity to visit the Lorraine Motel, site of the National Civil Rights Museum, on a trip two summers ago. It is sobering to see the balcony where he died. The inscription in front of the room is a quote from Genesis 37 (the story of Joseph): "And they said, here cometh the dreamer; let us slay him, and we shall see what becomes of his dreams." One of the most exciting things about this holiday for me is to reflect on how progress toward Dr. King's dream has come in the past 39 years. Although we are still far from perfect (and in this fallen world, we'll never get all the way past our prejudices, I fear), I can see in the attitudes of my 7th grade students toward my lessons on the Civil Rights Movement that gradually, generation by generation, we are drawing closer and closer to the color-blind society that Dr. King envisioned. My great-grandfather witnessed slavery. My grandfather lived through Jim Crow. My father went to one of the last segregated high school classes in our state, and lived through the Movement. I personally am still AWARE of race, but almost as an afterthought--and even that awareness is something of an embarassment to me. But my children (and my students, who are the same age) seem to not even notice race, and they treat my lessons on the Movement as if they took place in the ancient world. I keep hoping that their generation will be the one that fully achieves the dream. One thing is for sure--we're closer than we have ever been.
Have you guessed the trivia answer yet? The other three are Washington's Birthday, Columbus Day, and Christmas Day. Most folks I have asked this question have hung up on Jesus--something about three figures from US History and one from 2000 years ago makes it tougher. But Dr. King is in very good company. Have a great day off!