January 2022: MLK Day and Black History Month

Dear Local Educators,

Happy New Year! It has certainly been a challenging start to the new year for educators. However, it can be uplifting and invigorating to bring the classroom community together to commemorate and honor figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to celebrate the history of African Americans.

In this edition of The Scene with SEEN, we will provide resources for MLK Day and Black History Month. Before digging into the resources, consider what small steps you can take to increase representation in your classes over the next two months. What books are you reading together? What professionals from your field are you highlighting?

MLK Day is also a day of service. In this time of anxiety and uncertainty, perhaps take some time to find small ways to give back. For example, students could write thank you notes to unsung heroes in your school system.

MLK Day Resources

  • This article from Learning for Justice, “Teaching MLK with the Social Justice Standards,” discusses how to go deeper in classroom discussions of Dr. King.
  • This story challenges readers – but could also challenge students – to use Langston Hughes’ poem “I Dream a World” and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to envision their own dreams for the world.
  • This set of resources from the New York Times includes links and lesson ideas. For older students, there is discussion of how to discuss protests during the civil rights movement and protests today. For a broader audience, there are links to songs about Dr. King by Stevie Wonder and James Taylor for students to listen to and discuss, and possibly inspire them to write a song of their own.
  • This e-book for early elementary focuses on the history behind the celebration of MLK Day and comes with additional resources.

Black History Month

  • The Talking About Race initiative from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a resource for your own development and understanding of race and racism that also includes information for educators in particular.
  • This secondary Social Studies Lesson from the Zinn Education Project explores the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits from it.
  • This article by Herbert Kohl discusses the Rosa Parks myth and how you can frame discussions of Parks and other “heroes” of the Civil Rights Movement to better help children see themselves as agents of change.
  • This compilation of resources for Black History Month from the Center for Racial Justice in Education provides a diverse set of resources organized by subtopic.

Events and Opportunities

  • Please join us for the third in our Critical Conversations series: Communities in Action on January 15 from 12pm-1:30pm as part of MLK Saratoga’s Dr. King Celebration Weekend. Here is the link to register.
  • MLK Saratoga’s Dr. King Celebration Weekend has a large variety of offerings. There are informational offerings as well as day of service activities. The theme of the weekend is related to this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “I have decided to stick with Love. Hate is too great a burden.”
  • Interested in meeting with other local teachers to discuss Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and reflect on best practices and problem solving techniques? SEEN’s Faculty and Staff Committee hosts a monthly educator discussion group. Topics vary by month so you come when you can. Email saratogaeen@gmail.com for more information!
  • All of the back issues of The Scene with SEEN can now be found on our website!
  • Help spread the word to other educators by sending out our signup survey!

~ The SEEN Team

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