Because my students have Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off, we took today to honor and recognize the difference one person can make.
We read four paragraphs from "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." I asked kids to mark lines that stuck out to them, and the we shared them. I use a response technique in which students take turns (sometimes organized, sometimes not) just reading individual lines they marked. If someone "steals" your line, read it anyway. There is power in repetition.
The lines that I heard over and over again today:
"Justice too long delayed is justice denied."
(split into parts) "When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people..and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of 'nobodiness' then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."
"I would agree with St. Augustine that 'an unjust law is no law at all.'"
Powerful words. I hope they stick.