Do you remember having elementary school programs as a kid where everyone would be in the auditorium or cafeteria to observe a day? I remember a few of those, pretty sketchy on the actual memories, but one program from elementary school really strikes me.
I mean the memories are still a bit blurry, but this is how I remember things.
I was in second grade and had to go a neighborhood or two over to school which meant organized carpools for the first time. See in Kindergarten and first grade I walked to school with my brother & sister, but then bussing started and I would be going somewhere else.
That year was a strange one for all of us…. so many of us out of our neighborhoods everyday for the first time. And at second grade, that made you both a bit nervous and yet like you were suddenly older then your seven years.
A number of things that stood out about that year because of the feeling of difference, but the most vivid memory was of a program that was very different from the others.
We had already done programs for various national holidays and special occasions. It seems like maybe each class had a song, skit or something. But this one program that stands out for me was different for a few reasons.
- We hadn’t done programs for this in first grade or kindergarten.
- There was a real focus on working together across classes.
- There wasn’t a holiday on the calendar, but teachers told us we would do the program before some of our class would be taking a holiday.
I have remembered Martin Luther King Day as being in April, marking the day he was killed rather than his birthday which we now observe… but it would be an observation of the contributions Martin Luther King, Jr had made.
Since our school was just kindergarten through second grade, there were lots of second graders from various Memphis neighborhoods and we would all sing one song together. I have no idea if a teacher or someone wrote it, but Google still doesn’t turn anything up based on the one line I remember so clearly.
Dream about the dream of dreams, the dream of Martin Luther King.
Even now, I remember it the way second graders sing…. loudly because their teachers have said to make sure you are heard. so in my mind, it’s kind of screaming singing about the dream.
I would be halfway through college before Martin Luther King Day was a national holiday…. and even then, some states were complaining.
I understand differently that this is a dream that requires the work of a lot of people to make happen and too often I feel like there are more people standing in the way or actively trying to pull us back into some racist type of quicksand we have never fully escaped.
So maybe the screaming singing still feels appropropriate some days now too.
- Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. & Civil Rights Efforts
- My first trip to the MLK Jr Memorial in DC
- Recollections from spending time with a college friend’s parents including a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum
- Spending the Day in the Fifth Grade was a day for Flat Stanley that included MLK education
- Thoughts on how I observed Martin Luther King’s birthday in Memphis last year.