Often history happens when you least expect it. But January 21, 2013 is a day when the nation knows history will be made. It's both Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration for the second term of America's first black president. Taken together these two events offer a tremendous learning opportunity for youth, in Brooklyn and elsewhere.
For fun and to mark this historic occasion, you can organize a kids party around Michelle Obama (for the girls); scrap-booking (for preteens and young teens) and a party to watch the inauguration proceedings on TV.
Did you know that President Obama has authored several books? Check out these books, written by President Obama:
- Dreams from My Father
- Of Thee I Sing (a children's book)
- The Audacity of Hope
- Change We Can Believe In
- Barack Obama in His Own Words
3. Buy a 46 Cent Stamp, and Learn an Invaluable History Lesson
In honor of its 150th year anniversary, the Emancipation Proclamation is now the theme of a US postage stamp. The Emancipation Proclamation Stamp itself has a bit of history: it was unveiled at Washington DC;s National Archives, where the original Emancipation Proclamation is on display. At a ceremony announcing the stamp, the Proclamation was read by scholar-singer-activist Bernice Johnson Reagon (whom the Smithsonian Folkways refers to as a civil rights song leader.) And, if the kids are into stamp-collecting, this is a good year for civil-rights related stamp collecting. In 2013, three different Civil Rights stamps will be unveiled:
- The Emancipation Proclamation stamp
- Rosa Parks
- 1963 March on Washington stamp.
- (In 2009, the post office released 12 other stamps featuring civil rights pioneers).
Brooklyn kids will get a kick out of the fact that the President once lived in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park. He probably didn't expect, at that point in his life, to become president.
The recently released movie Lincoln
raises a lot of issues about slavery, freedom, race and American history. It you haven't already seen it, this is as good a way as any to juice up some thoughts about civil rights. It's playing in several Brooklyn theaters.
If Dr. King was about anything, he was about working together to achieve a common goal. So, collect your family together and work as a group on these fun MLK Day puzzles.
7. Keep Score of 20 Words: A Kids Game for Watching Inaugural Address on MLK Day
Brooklyn kids are used to discussions about race, Hurricane Sandy, MLK Day, and lots of political issues. So, keep them in their seats for the Inaugural Address on MLK Day 2013 by asking them to keep score of how many times the President mentions, for instance, these 20 words, including "Brooklyn:"
- Martin Luther King
- Martin Luther King Day
- Hurricane Sandy
- civil Rights
- Emancipation Proclamation
- fiscal cliff
- gun control
- health care
- Republican Party
- Sasha and Malia
- New York
- the Internet, and
2013 marks the 150th year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. What could be more fitting to memorialize Martin Luther King Day than to read these words..."On the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free..."
It won't take long. Maybe 8 minutes. Read it aloud, in a group. It's educational, exhilarating, moving.
10. Connect MLK Day, the Obama Inaugural and Black History Month
Black history month is an important educational opportunity, and in Brooklyn, there's always a lot going on Black History Month highlights
. So connect the events of January 21, 2013 with Black History Month. One way to do this might be to plan a visit to Weeksville
, a historic free black community in Brooklyn.
11. Go to Washington DC on the Occasion of the Inauguration of Barack ObamaLast but not least, head to DC to mark the combined events of Martin Luther King Day and the Inauguration. It might be cold. You probably won't actually see much. But January 21, 2013 will be historic. And it might be nice for your children (especially if they were too young to go four years ago) to be able to tell their own children that they were there, that day.