Half a century ago, heroes like Martin Luther X and Rose Park risked their lives by marching on top of lunch counters so that kids of all races would one day have the right to catch a few "Z's" in class while the teacher showed a filmstrip of the "I Have a Dream" speech. And how do kids these days repay those civil rights heroes? By not knowing a damn thing about them.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has given each state a letter grade for its civil rights history curriculum, and 35 states got an "F." This mirrors the distribution of grades in the average American classroom, but still. From the NYT:
Many states have turned Dr. King's life into a fable, said Mr. [Julian] Bond, who now teaches at American University and the University of Virginia. He said his students knew that "there used to be segregation until Martin Luther King came along, that he marched and protested, that he was killed, and that then everything was all right."
That international "007" spy is right: kids these days need to know it wasn't all about MLK freedom riding with Bob Dylan and fighting off firehose-wielding dogs. Who will tell our kids about the other heroes of the civil rights movement—Jackie Robinson, the aforementioned Rose Park, and, ah.... Michael Jordan? And what about the underappreciated role of other professional athletes? Miss, can I write my civil rights report about Lebron James? Miss?
Related: 10% of middle schoolers in Washington, DC have tried to kill themselves.
[NYT. Photo of MLK celebrating St. Augustine, Florida's hospitality: AP]