Nick’s Essay Assignment

Nick and Josh Visit the MLK Memorial

This morning Nick announced that he has to write an essay for school about Martin Luther King, Jr. Apparently there is a reward involved. I got right on helping him look up some information about Reverend King and we talked about his message and also how he was assassinated. We read the I Have a Dream speech aloud.

We identified the theme of the speech and discussed some of parts Nick didn’t completely understand but which words he said he liked. I gave him a highlighter so he could begin reading and thinking about what he should write with the goal of making an outline as we read all the information we collected.

Before we began, Nick said that MLK’s message was for black and white people to get along. I pointed out that this was right but that he also fought for the larger equality of opportunity. We discussed examples of how things used to be; separate water fountains, the segregation of public transportation, etc. He found it hard to believe. It was painful for me to explain that people simply designed these injustices for their own greed. I explained that this was the reality that his grandfather would have dealt with when he was young. This really did register in his mind. As we read the speech, we discussed that MLK, Jr. was fighting for the equal rights which are outlined in the Constitution. I also pointed out that King emphasized peaceful protests and explained the violence surrounding the times, particularly in the South, and why certain states are focal points in his landmark speech.

Nick took his highlighter to this phrase, I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

I suggested that Nick begin his essay by noting the many entities in New Orleans that named after MLK, Jr. I listed them and some which are significantly related; the Dr. MLK, Jr. Charter School on Caffin Ave. in the 9th Ward, (they had heard of this school), MLK, Jr. Blvd., the Memorial on S. Clairborne Ave., and the Southern Christian Leadership Council, which was started during the civil rights movement as well and the Mahalia Jackson Theatre, apparently, Mahalia Jackson was a friend of MLK, Jr.

We finished today’s research by going over to visit the MLK, Jr. memorial on S. Claiborne Ave. I knew going into this idea that the memorial is totally inaccessible and I’d be risking our lives just to show it to them. Josh pleaded to stay in the car while Nick and I were determined to see the memorial, Nick likes to take photos. I explained to Josh that this was a good thing for him to see and the it was a “No Child Left Behind” moment. We still have some more reading to get through tomorrow but this was the limit of their attention span today.

Josh often must be coaxed into participating in the more educational activities we design together. Earlier this week, their older brother told me that Josh had expelled from the RSD due to his not passing the LEAP test, which did not seem right to me. I learned the truth of the matter today from Josh. He was expelled due to his combative behavior with others. I did some finger-shaking toward him about getting along with people and not throwing fits and acting like a selfish fool.

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