Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

“Thoughts are universally, not individually, rooted.”
-Paramhansa Yogananda

black hats signs

Often in class, when we are “brain-storming,” or “brain-gardening,” as some prefer to say, we practice a fun technique I adapted from a story of the life of a well known Bengali singer/saint named, Lalon (c. 1774–1890).

The story goes, as it was told to me, when inspiration for a song would come to him, Lalon would exclaim to his disciples with joy:

“Where are all of you?  The small fish came!”

So once in a while, in class,  we practice casting our nets when we need an idea.  The more open your mind and directed toward super-consciousness, the more likely you are to catch a fish of inspiration!

Before, when two people would have the same idea, someone might get their feelings hurt, thinking the friend “stole” the idea.  Now, we often laugh when the same inspiration comes to two people at the same time!

*     *     *

On January 15th, our school celebrated Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.  For this celebration, we gather as a school and each class shares a skit, speech, or song.  This year, our class put on a little skit, but the way it came about is a very good story – and totally experiential.

The inspiring story of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement was very moving for the kids in my class, however the cruel and ignorant views of bigotry and racism just seem so unreal. This group of children, in our particular nook of the world, do not experience it in their daily lives.  It was also not appropriate to share the explicit vulgarity and nastiness of bigotry and racism at their age and experience.   One of the kids, in fact, suggested that we make a skit about aliens that come down to earth and cannot believe how horribly some humans were treating each other.

The photo below, from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, was one of the photos that really seemed to catch the kids’ attention.  They ended up weaving this theme into our skit — that we are all humans, deserving of equal rights, or, in their language, “we’re all the same.”

i am a man

As a group, we began throwing around ideas, with the intention of creating a skit that everyone felt really good about sharing.  Still fresh in the kids’ minds was the above picture and a book we read about two clans of zebras who segregated themselves based on their narrow perception of each others’ stripes.

  *     *     *

Four of the kids wanted to make white hats with black stripes.  Four of the kids wanted to make black hats with white stripes.   I did not say anything, but just handed out the paper and watched.  They decided to make separate groups of kids with different hats at two water fountains who eventually realize that they are really all the same.  You can watch the video here:


The beauty of this story is that when we started out making the hats, the kids were really thinking that the hats would turn out differently depending on which color paper one started with.  I watched as a big discussion/debate began to form, amidst the cacophony of the cutting and the pasting, about who needed to use which color based on which fountain they were going to stand near.

white hats with kids

As the hats were completed, their   frowns turned to looks of joyful surprise as they realized one by one that the hats all looked the same.

“Stripes are stripes!  People are people!  We really ARE all the SAME!”

I realized in that moment, that this message really did not hit home until we had actually made the hats.


10 more points for experiential learning! 

It was a lovely “A-Ha!” moment for everyone, including me! ❤


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