What’s Your Dream? A Family Activity For MLK Day

Tomorrow is MLK Day, and inauguration day, and a day when your family will likely be home.  So whether or not you normally homeschool, why not try it for the day?  Here are some ideas that our family will try out tomorrow, based on the fact the boys are studying the American Revolution.

1.  Read the introduction to the Declaration of Independence.  Talk about what it means.  You might also watch the Schoolhouse Rock video “Fireworks.” (The video is definitely from the 70s, so you should prescreen it.  But it makes the point that if the government won’t give you your rights, you are in your right to throw out the government by force- which leads to some interesting questions when you get to MLK.) Some questions you might ask:

  • Who did the signers of the Declaration have in mind when they wrote that “All men are created equal?”
  • Who was left out?
  • In one of Martin Luther King Junior’s most famous speeches (see below) he called the Declaration a promissory note.  What did he mean by that?

2.  Watch the speech MLK delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (It’s long, and younger viewers may want to skip to minute 12:10).

  • MLK starts his speech by referring to the Emancipation Proclamation, that Lincoln had signed “five score” years earlier.  By using the phrase “five score,” MLK was alluding to the Gettysburg Address.  In that speech, Lincoln said that the civil war was a test of whether a nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…can long endure.”  Why did MLK refer to Lincoln’s address?
  • The Revolutionary War and Civil War were violent fights for freedom.  MLK led a non-violent fight.  When, if ever, is okay to fight for freedom with weapons?  Would it have been okay for the civil rights leaders to take up arms to fight for freedom?
  • During the civil rights movement how were blacks (and some whites and others) cashing in the promissory note of the Declaration?
  • Who did MLK say was created equal?  Who did he leave out?
  • What was his dream?  Has it been accomplished?  What’s left to be done?

3.  Watch some part of the inauguration on TV.

  • What does Obama’s presidency say about the three documents: the Declaration, the Gettysburg Address, about MLK’s I Have A Dream speech?
  • What has he done to fight for freedom?  What do you wish he would do?
  • Regardless of your political beliefs, talk to your family about our country’s history of moving forward in spite of great division.  After all, there was fierce debate about the direction of the country when each of the three documents was written.  What is required of us to keep fighting for our beliefs in a manner that allows our country to move forward?
4.  Dream!
  • What’s your dream?  For  yourself?  Your family?  Your country?
  • How does your faith influence both the dream you dream and the hope you hold that the dream will become a reality?
  • Draw a picture, write a speech, or make a up a dance or video to tell us about your dream.
  • Make a timeline that includes the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, and MLK’s speech.  Place your dreams on the timeline as well, and then pray over them.
5. Serve.
  • In some places, it’s not too late to join the MLK National Day of Service projects.  See if there is something going on in your town here.
  • Find some other way to serve others and make your dreams for our country a reality.

This is obviously a long list of discussion and activities, and it’s probably too much for most families to do in a day.  But you can spread it out over a few days or weekends.  And you can modify it for younger kids.  But don’t let the day slip by without remembering a great man and shaping your children’s hearts toward freedom.  If you do, I’d love to hear how it went.  Post your dreams in the comment box or send us links to your YouTube videos.  And let freedom ring!

  • Tara Edelschick

    Interesting connection between documents that I just read on Kathy Schiffer’s blog :

    “This morning, the President took the oath of office with his left hand on Michelle Obama’s family Bible. Tomorrow, he will rest his hand on two historic Bibles, stacked together: the Lincoln Bible, the same burgundy velvet Bible on which Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office in 1865; and Martin Luther King’s “traveling bible,” the small, gently used bible which Dr. King carried with him when he visited southern cities to demand civil rights for all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin.”

    You can read more here: (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kathyschiffer/2013/01/two-ceremonies-three-bibles-no-scriptures-the-2013-inauguration/)


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