The kids asked today, “why is this inauguration so important?” They could certainly answer the question themselves but to them, children of 1997 and beyond, it seems silly. Why shouldn’t there be a black president? What’s the big deal? While it is amazing to see them grow in a world where judging one by skin color is asinine, it is still important for them to see the historical significance and relevance for today.
In grade four, we “always” perform a speech-instrumental piece at this time of year called “Martin Luther King” (Kriske/DeLelles) It is a great jumping point for connections. The piece is simple but the B section allows for discussions on justice, equal rights, liberty and freedom, “he had a dream that we shall overcome” (those being the lyrics). They all get “he had a dream” but “we shall overcome” is always new. This allowed for great use of technology. We listened to the MLK “We Shall Overcome” speech and several different versions of the spiritual including a video from 2008 of President Elect Obama singing after a speech at Ebeneezer Baptist Church. They also learned the significance of crossed hand holding as a symbol of unity.
The responses of the children were awesome. Particularly their understanding of the hand holding. They truly understood that persistence through a struggle takes unity. This was the point to “drive home”. Seeing the President Elect sing the time-tested spiritual allowed them a connection to today’s time and also a recognition that some things have changed.