Submitted by Mary Heveran and Grade 4 Students
“Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired non-violent protest for civil rights. What does it mean to be non-violent? Why was this approach important then and now?”
This prompt was given to the 4th grade students as a way of generating ideas for the MLK Assembly. What I got back from them was quite amazing. They quickly began working on ways of translating their written responses into formats that could be shared with the full Lower School during the assembly.
Their responses ranged from essays, posters, skits, and dance routines and even a rewrite of the song It’s Quiet Uptown from the Broadway play Hamilton, which a student changed the title to It’s a Riot Uptown.
4th grader Alan shared, “Cooperation was key to correct positioning of the skits.”
Below are some excerpts from the skits and presentations:
“To be non-violent means to not harm or kill. It means to be peaceful and comes from the belief that hurting people or the environment is unnecessary to achieve a result. This approach was important then and now because it is about holding love for everyone, even those who disagree with us.”
“ I believe that you can show your support or disapproval of something without being violent and you can use methods like speeches, marching, art, and peaceful protests.”
“Race should not matter. The only things that should matter are your beliefs. Dr. King understood that violence only leads to fear and hatred. Engaging in non-violent protest is extremely difficult when the other side’s response is to hurt you. However, when non-violent protests are successful they can bring a nation together in wanting to do the right thing.”
“We still are struggling with racism and prejudice. Non-violent protest should continue against injustice now. Violent protest does not solve problems. It will start conflicts and eventually erupt into a war that will move the human race further away from peace on planet earth.”
The assembly ended with the entire 4th grade singing and dancing to the song We Stood Up, a rap song about Rosa Parks and the Greensboro 4. They reminded us all to stand up for what we believe: liberty, peace, justice, creativity, love, acceptance, fairness, equality, humanity, and kindness.
In the words of 4th grader Guy, “It was a powerful assembly. I think the final song really blew the audience away.”
4th Grader Nikka shared, “What I really liked about the Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly is that it put our minds together to work as a team. It also let us learn a lot more about his life. We learned about his deepest thoughts and the inspiration that he has given to others.”