Posted in Reflections

You Learn Something New Every Day

Dr. King
Image Credit: John Hain on Pixabay

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day…a national holiday in the United States. As an educator, I have taught countless 2nd – 5th graders about Dr. King. As I took in all the media coverage about this important holiday today, there was a part of the history behind this holiday that I had been completely unaware of – the significance of a song written by Stevie Wonder that I had never taken the time to truly process.

The only parts of this song I ever really heard was the chorus, and I thought this was just a more ‘modern’ way to sing Happy Birthday, as there are a variety of takes on this classic tune. But the parts of the song that aren’t the chorus are very significant:

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
‘Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition
Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion
And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
All throughout the world
The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God’s children
It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

We know the key to unity all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago (happy birthday)
That lives in all of the hearts of people (happy birthday)
That believe in unity (happy birthday)
We’ll make the dream become a reality (happy birthday)
I know we will (happy birthday)
Because our hearts tell us so (happy birthday)

I started my educational experience in the 80s, I am not ashamed to say that it was 1979 when I entered kindergarten. It seems odd to me that I attended school before the holiday in honor of Dr. King was official. It wasn’t until I was in the 6th grade that the holiday honoring Dr. King was officially observed. There is a great post about this bit of history written by Marcus Baram that has all the details, but it just amazes me how you really can learn something new every day, even about a subject like Dr. King and everything he stood for and his memory continues to stand for. Happy Birthday to you Dr. King!