What is a hero? If Martin Luther King Jr. was a Super Hero, what would his super power be?
A booming voice? An ability to write a memorable and meaningful speech? The ability to remain nonviolent amidst anger and hate?
In my school district, we do not have school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In preparation for this day off, we read books about his life and talked about race in his time and today. The students in my class are bewildered and even angry at the unfairness of laws that said students of different colors could not be in the same schools together, could not eat in the same places and could not drink from the same water fountains in some parts of our country.
Many second grade students already knew facts about his life, his hope to solve problems between people, his connection to the bus boycott, the way he died and the phrase “I have a dream” from his speech.
I read aloud a new book written by Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece titled Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs (As Told By His Niece) by Angela Farris Watkins.
It is interesting to hear her voice describe her impressions of “Uncle Martin” and the beliefs she learned from him such as “have courage”, “fight the problem, not the person” and love your enemies.
The book helped us discuss why people see him as a hero. This led to an interesting discussion about the meaning of “hero”. One student said, “Do you mean he was a super-hero, like Spiderman?”
We looked at the dictionary definition of hero which is, “somebody who commits an act of remarkable bravery or who has shown an admirable quality such as great courage or strength of character. “
The class agreed that Martin Luther King Jr. was a hero based on that definition.
We talked about the fact that even regular people may be able to have “super hero” powers if they try to follow some of the beliefs from the book.
Kindness, courage, love, helping others. Are these super powers? We agreed that they are.
Can regular people, even those who are 7 and 8 years old be a hero?
We came to the conclusion that when you are 8 years old, being willing to try something new, or try it again and showing determination is a super power.
Feeling like you can reach beyond what you think you can do. That’s a super power.
We ended the lesson still thinking about this question: What’s your super power?
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