Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in western Massachusetts

No matter what kind of activity you choose to do to celebrate MLK Day, it’s important to be sure that your family shares an understanding of the significance of the act. Of course, children will need to know some of the history behind the holiday, but the amount of depth with which they understand it will vary based on their age. In addition to learning about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and accomplishments, try to identify together some of the themes threaded through his work. A discussion of the importance of kindness and gratitude alongside an examination of your family’s role within the community can be especially useful – children will be inspired to find ways to share some of King’s big ideas with those around them. Once your family is inspired, transfer their enthusiasm into accomplishments and further learning!

Next week, the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20th, 2014, presents families with a three-day weekend. Instead of spending your extra day off sleeping in and lazing around the house, highlight the historical significance of the holiday for your family and find a way to make it meaningful. Families can find special events and service opportunities taking place across western Massachusetts, each of which presents students with the chance to learn experientially about the history of oppression in our country, community activism, and the importance of kindness and a commitment to serve others.

Mass Audubon will be hosting the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service at both Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton and Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden. Both events will begin with readings of King’s writing about justice and service, and families will learn how to relate his ideas to environmental justice. Afterward, families will be able to do hands-on work to help maintain the sanctuary, such as trail clearing and maintenance, upkeep of buildings, and invasive species removal. The events at both sanctuaries will begin at 9:30am, and will include outdoor work – so dress warmly! Productive participants of all ages are welcome to volunteer at Arcadia, however the work at Laughing Brook is more appropriate for older teens and adults.

Families interested in participating in a community service project that directly serves other community members can participate in the North Berkshire Community Coalition’s MLK Jr. Day of Service in North Adams. Open to teens and adults, the event will include tasks like home insulation and winterizing, painting, knitting, cleaning, and organizing. The event will take place from 9:30am-12:30pm, and includes lunch. Volunteers should meet for the event as Mass College of Liberal Arts’ Church Street Center (61 Main Street, North Adams), but may participate in projects at other locations during the event.

Discover more events…

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Old Sturbridge Village

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebrated
at Old Sturbridge Village

Historian and storyteller Tammy Denease portrays Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, telling her story for her fight for freedom at the Old Sturdbridge Village on MLK Jr. Day, Jan 16th, 2012.

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, Old Sturbridge Village is offering a program on Monday, Jan 16th for families that highlights the story of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, a former slave (from Sheffield, MA) who successfully gained her freedom in court- a case that eventually lead to the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts.  Freeman is played by historian and storyteller Tammy Denease, who will tell the story of Freeman’s fight for freedom as well as explain her role in the fight to abolish slavery for good.  Freeman’s story is important not only because it is unique (most slaves couldn’t even try to fight for freedom, let alone succeed at doing so), but because she was a woman and women’s rights were practically unheard of during the 1700’s.

Children can learn a lot from the presentation- it fits into studies of civil and human rights, culture, and American history, and hearing Freeman’s story within a re-creation of its historical context can help kids to contextualize the story.

Other activities taking place throughout the day include ice skating (BYO skates), hands-on art activities, and history-based free play at the village’s KidStory area.  For more information, call the museum at 800-733-1830 or visit www.osv.org.

Resources to Explore MLK & the Civil Rights Movement

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
“I Have A Dream” Speech

Families interested in discovering more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement with their children might enjoy the following resources:

  • FamilyEducation.com has Martin Luther King Jr Day Activities and Resources for Kids
  • Kaboose.com has a great list of Black History Links
  • Rosa Parks: How I Fought for Civil Rights is a lesson on Scholastic.com that describes her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Kodak.com offers a photo display titled Powerful Days in Black & White
  • PBS.com has a companion site to the American Experience program about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Citizen King
  • Lest We Forget: Images From the Civil Rights Movement is a collection of portraits of civil right leaders by 20th century artist Robert Templeton
  • HFVS Peace Episode has a good selection of peace themed songs, appropriate for MLK Day.
  • Please share resources you’ve discovered too and leave us a comment.

     

    Giveaway: (DVD) March On! The Day Martin Changed the World

    March On!
    The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World
    … and more stories about African American history

    This January, as America prepares to commemorate the birthday of our country’s most iconic civil rights leader and Black History Month, families can learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and other heroes of African American history in an entertaining and educational new Scholastic Storybook Treasure DVD release, March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, which includes more than an hour of inspiring true stories.

    Hilltown Families is offering one winning family a copy of this newly release DVD.  Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 01/18/10 @ 7pm. Details below.

    ABOUT THE TITLE STORY

    The lead story, March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, is a moving account of the day when Martin Luther King, Jr. presented his “I Have a Dream” speech to the world during the civil rights March on Washington in1963. The story is told by Dr. King’s sister, Dr. Christine King Ferris, with colorful animation of London Ladd’s illustrations. As a bonus, the DVD includes an interview with the author, Dr. King Ferris. As the American Library Association noted about the production, “Lynn Whitfield’s sensitive and stirring narration is enriched with audio clips of Mahalia Jackson’s powerful song, crowd noises, and clips from MLK’s speech. Music by Michael Bacon sets the tone for the film and seamlessly accommodates songs of the era.”

    ABOUT THE DVD

    Three more historical tales follow King’s amazing, true-life story, each carefully adapted from award-winning children’s books: Martin’s Big Words (adapted from the book by Doreen Rapport, illustrated by Michael Collier), Rosa (written and narrated by Nikki Giovanni, illustrations by Michael Sporn), Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad (based on the book by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson). Together the stories have won 15 awards, including the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video, Caldecott Honor Award, and selection as a American Library Association Notable Video. Celebrity narration by Whitfield, Michael Clark Duncan and others, plus engaging music, make these tales come to life for a new generation of Americans.

    HOW TO WIN

    Your chance to win March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World from Scholastic Storybook Treasures is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!

    To win simply:

    1. POST A COMMENT BELOW (one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
    2. FULL NAME and where you
    3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) PLEASE include your town and state to be eligible.
    4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
    5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

    IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, 01/18/10 @ 7pm (EST).

    Hilltown Families Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

    African-American Soul Food for Martin Luther Kig, Jr. birthday at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Hilltown families enjoyed African-American soul food during the “I Have a Dream” community celebration at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA, on Monday, January 16th, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

    The “I Have A Dream” celebration was kicked off at 1 p.m. with a reading from King’s famous speech, followed by a performance by the popular Pittsfield step dance troupe, Youth Alive. Youth Alive is a troupe of young dancers from Pittsfield, who perform Hip-Hop, African, and Modern dances using their bodies as musical instruments to create a mix of sounds through feet stomping, hand clapping, and body movement.

    Making "I Have a Dream" posters. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    A sampling of African-American soul food was offered to visitors following the performance. Children and parents enjoyed free samples of cornbread, collard greens seasoned with pork, and sweet potato pie.

    Children sat around tables and on the floors in the upstairs gallery to make “I Have A Dream” posters to be displayed around the gallery for the day or to take and hang at home. Statements like “Use your own mind and listen to yourself,” and “Speak up when you know you should,” were written along with illustrations. Wise words for such young minds!

     

    Kids marvel at the Savage Ancient Seas exhibit. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    Currently on view at the museum is the exhibit Savage Ancient Seas, which presents the many gigantic forms of life that populated the prehistoric waters at the same time dinosaurs roamed the earth. The gallery is lit in hues of blue and green, creating an underwater ambience.

    Exploring undersea world of the late Cretaceous Period at Berkshire Museum. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

    The exhibition explores the undersea world of the late Cretaceous Period, filled with huge carnivorous marine reptiles with double-hinged jaws and teeth in the middle of their palates, gigantic flesh-eating fish big enough to swallow an adult human whole, and more. With voracious appetites, incredible teeth, and gaping jaws, these creatures are unlike anything known in today’s world. Highlights include an Elasmosaur with a 30-foot long neck, the toothy scowl of a giant carnivorous fish (Xiphactinus), and the jaws of a Megalodon, or giant shark, along with other skeletons, fossils, and life replicas.

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