More than a half-century after the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many of America’s youth are still in the dark about the life and legacy of the nation’s foremost civil rights leader.
Brainly, the world’s largest online learning platform, recently surveyed more than 1,700 U.S. students to understand better what they know—and don’t know—about King, his life, and his legacy.
It turns out; the answer is not much.
According to the data, 63 percent of U.S. students incorrectly identified King’s accomplishments or were not aware of some of the most important things he did to contribute to America’s Civil Rights Movement.
As an example, the survey found that more than 25 percent of U.S. students said that he did not lead the Montgomery Bus boycott. Also, about 18 percent said they were not aware that King organized the famous “March on Washington.”
What’s more, a stunning 19 percent said King didn’t give his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream.”
In an email, Brainly officials told NNPA Newswire that its mission is to democratize education and ensure that all students have equal access to the resources they need to be academically successful.
The organization stated early last month that this was particularly important ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as the country and the world reflected on the major impact King had on the U.S. and the globe, and how his sacrifice has left an indelible impression on the cause for equality.
For those who understand King’s legacy, they said education and reflection are most important – particularly in observing the holiday that honors King.
“MLK Day is a day [each year] recommit to the fight for equality and inclusion. To remember who we want to be as individuals and as a country,” stated Lena Hackett, executive director and managing partner of the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, a nonprofit based in Indianapolis that works to commemorate the historic speech delivered by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Indiana on the night King was assassinated.
“The best way to commemorate Dr. King is for America to re-read his sermons and gain a renewed appreciation for their timeless wisdom on racial reconciliation, justice, family, and faith,” stated Frederick Weaver, a GIS Specialist who researches African American historical figures.
“Then, we must individually and collectively act on that wisdom to solve today’s challenges,” Weaver stated.
Alex Tran, a digital marketing strategist, said he believes the best way for children and all others to commemorate King is to live a life where respect is given and received freely regardless of race, skin color, gender, and sexual orientation.
“It’s a time for us to reflect on how much our nation has changed and what we still need to do to foster equality and justice for all,” Tran stated.
“I created an organization where we teach current and former foster youth, and beyond, what it means to be confident, have self-worth, respect others and live life as authentic contributing human beings. We teach lessons that are not traditionally taught in school until college, and this includes communication, critical thinking, finance, and health and wellness.”
While preschoolers and those in kindergarten may not be prepared to learn intricate details of the civil rights movement, a recent NBC Today Show study noted that elementary school students should be provided books that teach about King’s life and legacy.
Also, middle schoolers should be taught, or reintroduced, to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which could educate them on stereotypes and other biases.
NBC’s study also concluded that high school students should be taught how King “walked the walk and talked the talk.” Teenagers can understand the modern civil rights movement and King’s leading role in it as he risked his life to he lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and the March on Washington in 1963, which helped facilitate passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 abolishing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or nationality, NBC researchers stated.