From the PA’s DEI Committee: Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

Members of Gaynor’s Parent Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee are beginning a series of monthly updates centered on personal reflections and resources for parents. This month’s entry comes from Nina Norwood:

January 18th is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday and a very special day to my family. As we honor Dr. King, we reflect on his work in the Civil Rights Movement, where the country was at the time of his death, and whether America realized his dream. My mother, Doris Nielsen, was lucky enough to have participated at the March on Washington. Ever since my children started school, my mom would visit and talk to the students about Dr. King and the March on Washington. She shared her lived experience about being from New Rochelle, New York, and traveling to Washington, D.C., with my dad on the special day. She reflected on the sea of thousands of beautiful people in attendance, people of all races, creeds, and colors marching for one singular cause: equality. Since Blake started at Stephen Gaynor School, his grandmother has visited the school three times to speak with Yellow and Green Cluster students about Dr. King. Gaynor students always have great questions to try and understand why there is still racial injustice in the world.

Nina Norwood

(Blake Norwood’s Mom, Blue Cluster)

Personal Photos:

Here are some great meaningful and affordable ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. When taking part in the activities, please discuss the ideas of tolerance and acceptance of others, Dr. King’s mission.

  1. Read books about Martin Luther King Jr. with your children (see Blake’s suggestions below)
  2. Watch movies about social injustice
  3. Watch Dr. King’s speeches on YouTube
  4. Visit local events
  5. Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C.


Blake’s “must have” books about Martin Luther King Jr.:

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

​By Doreen Rappaport (author) and Bryan Collier (illustrator) Age: 6-9 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. He would later go on to use these words to inspire a nation and call people to action. In this award-winning book, powerful portraits of King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr.

​By Jean Marzollo (author) and Brian Pinkney (illustrator) Age: 3-6 Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The significance and impact of Dr. King and why his birthday is celebrated is presented in a handsome package. The fluid text combines with stunning illustrations done in scratchboard and paint, to make a sometimes difficult subject accessible to younger children.

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World

By Christine King Farris (author) and London Ladd (illustrator) Age: 6-9 Reading Level: Independent Reader

Martin Luther King, Jr. prepared diligently for his now-famous “I have a dream” speech given on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was King’s unshakable belief in nonviolence and the power of words that galvanized the country. This informal account is both personal and satisfying as revealed by Martin’s older sister who watched it on television with their parents in Atlanta. Full-color illustrations and expressive typography highlight words and enhance the tone.

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights. Maintaining nonviolent and peaceful tactics even when his life was threatened, King was also an advocate for the poor and spoke out against racial and economic injustice until his death—from an assassin’s bullet—in 1968. With clearly written text that explains this tumultuous time in history and 80 black-and-white illustrations, this Who Was? celebrates the vision and the legacy of a remarkable man.