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Honoring MLK’s legacy (and not co-opting it)

While many new outlets and blogs had articles prepared to run on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I usually prefer to take in the experience and then write about it the next day (i.e. one of my personal favorite Cloaking Inequity MLK day posts is Honoring MLK: Remembered For the Extremist That He Was)

My day began with the Sacramento parade honoring MLK’s legacy.

I also spent some time with mini me talking about what MLK meant to her. She wrote a short essay (Here is her effort from last year “We only have books about African Americans in February”: Be an eloquent radical) She struck me when she said in her piece,

Can I ever be like MLK?

and,

You have to have faith, change, believe in yourself, we are brothers and sisters, love each other and not hate them but have love.

One of the common themes in the news articles and blog posts I read this year is the persisting co-opting of King’s legacy for neoliberal and other spurious purposes. (See Debunking the biggest myths about MLK – CNN.com & Read This Before Co-Opting MLK Jr. — Medium)

Here is what the Boondocks thinks about that.

To engage directly with MLK’s primary sources, I spent several hours to close the day searching the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project. From their website:

Initiated by The King Center in Atlanta, the King Papers Project is one of only a few large-scale research ventures focusing on an African American. In 1985 the King Center’s founder and president Coretta Scott King invited Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson to become the Project’s director. As a result of Dr. Carson’s selection, the Project became a cooperative venture of Stanford University, the King Center, and the King Estate. It is now a component of Stanford’s King Research and Education Institute.

I created six memes from my research in the King papers. I proffer his words should inform our democratic discussions about the education “reform” movement.

Are segregated charters (and traditional public schools) in the best interest of society?

mlk meme 3

mlk meme 5

What about the fringes of the African American community that support school voucher programs?

mlk meme 6

Say it like it really is… (See The Teat: @ntlBAEO, Choice, $, and Strings Attached?)

What role should teachers have in Civil Rights?

mlk meme 8

Will education remedy poverty or vice versa?

mlk meme 4

What should the outcome of education be?

mlk meme 1

mlk meme 2

Two other speeches that I came across in my MLK papers research that spoke to me.

In conclusion, I think sometimes we/I can be disillusioned and disappointed with the continuing neoliberal victories in education. I was inspired by this quote from MLK’s speech entitled A Knock at Midnight, a sermon he delivered at Mt. Zion Baptist Church on June 11, 1967.

The dawn will come. Disappointment, sorrow, and despair are born at midnight, but morning follows. “Weeping may endure for a night,” says the Psalmist, “but joy cometh in the morning.” This faith adjourns the assemblies of hopelessness and brings new light into the dark chambers of pessimism.

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Twitter: @ProfessorJVH

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About Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig (688 Articles)
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

1 Comment on Honoring MLK’s legacy (and not co-opting it)

  1. Not, co-opting it! Good idea! Like “not co-opting” the expression “No Child Left Behind” would have been nice, too!!!

    Like

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