Monday, January 21, 2013

"I Have A Dream" Project

My mother was at the I Have  A Dream speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in August of 1963. She was 18 and four months pregnant with my older brother.

One of her early memories from when she was a child was from when my grandfather, a fierce and devoted union leader, took her and my uncle with him to walk to union meetings because he thought he was less likely to be shot if he was with his children. There had been threats.

When my brother was about five, and my older sister a young toddler, my mother took them to a peaceful protest at People's Park in Berkeley, CA. Governor Reagan did not like those hippies and their Park. My brother can remember trying to run from the tear gas on his little legs, while my mother and her friend, both of them carrying a younger child, each held one of Dylan's hands and lifted him off the ground to flee.

As a young teen, I protested the first Gulf War, and as a young adult I protested the next Gulf War. In my thirties I took my children to sing union songs at the Madison capitol as corrupt politicians tore away at everything my grandfather worked for his whole life. I hope that I will not being protesting another Gulf War in my middle age, but I have my doubts.

Protest and social activism are a part of who I am, a part of my moral fiber. I find my faith and devotion in the power of people working for positive change.

I want my kids to grow up knowing that faith. I want them to know that people have that sort of power, and that great evils can be stood up to, can be fought with words and action, and that there is hope.

My kids and I read Martin's Big Words today. We had read it before and Anya sobbed inconsolably when it described his death. She requested that we not read the end today, and I struggled before closing the book early but did talk to them about his death being an important part of his story.

After that we did a project like this. I read part of MLK's speech to them, and we talked about how he imagined a way that the world could be better, and then as he grew up he acted on his dream and was able to make the world a better place. I asked them to think of ways that they could imagine the world as a better place while we created a sky collage out of tissue paper and construction paper.

I cut out clouds, and asked each kid to tell me what their dream was. It was tempting to prompt, since I was a bit worried I might end up with something like, "I have a dream that kids can have treats all the time, even before dinner when cruel mothers usually refuse." BUT I am so glad I didn't because I love knowing their unadulterated dreams.

Anya initially  said that her dream was "that people would plant more plants. To Eat. Because they are yummy." Then she switched to "people being nice to each other." And finally decided on "that everyone will stop throwing trash on the ground."

Alex first said that he hoped that people would stop shooting animals, but then told me that he hoped that people would stop shooting everything. Surprising coming from a kid who loves gunplay who is growing up in a place where hunting season is practically a holiday. Must be some of the California hippie rubbing off on him!

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