I didn't want my kids to think of January 18th as just a day off from school. I wanted them to understand the importance. So the night before (Sunday night), I gathered them around the computer, and we viewed 3 short clips.
First, we watched the "I've Been to the Top of the Mountain" speech from the night before he was killed. In only a little over a minute, he delivers one of the most passionate, inspiring orations I have ever heard:
then, I went to Patty Griffin’s song based on that speech:
I paused the song a couple of times to emphasize the following points:
MLK said in his speech that he knew his life might be cut short (as it was just 24 hours later), but he was satisfied just doing God's will. He was convinced that God had asked him to take on this role, and he readily carried out God's calling, knowing it would be painful.
In the song, Griffin sings directly to God, from MLK's perspective, saying that he is doing it "because You asked me to," and being satisfied with God's acceptance and love, even as this calling has meant hardship, rejection, threats, and hatred for him:
"I see nothing at all
Then I hear your sweet voice
Come and then go
Telling me softly
You love me so"
I explained that this wasn't just about race. It was about how God has a calling for each of us, and in many cases, it's hard. It's much easier to do our own thing, but in the long run, we're better off when we accept God's call and walk in the path that God has laid out for us.
Finally, I showed U2’s “Pride”, which is about MLK. I really like this particular clip, because it features news clips relevant to the topic. The kids had not realized that just a short time ago, blacks couldn't go to school with whites, or that they were treated as second-class citizens:
A couple of years ago, I would have laughed at the thought of using video clips from the Internet to educate my kids. But though the tools change, teachable moments never do. The moments need to be recognized as they happen, so we can grab the opportunity and make the most of it.
Thank God for YouTube, an imperfect tool which can be, and often is, used by God for His purposes. Thank God for MLK, an imperfect man, used by God. May we all learn these lessons well.