In the United States, on the third Monday of January (January 19th, 2015) we as a nation honor Martin Luther King and his legacy of action on American Civil Rights.
Civil Rights—by definition—are a class of rights that protect citizens' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals, and thatensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.
Within our government structure it was not until the 1960's that political action and organization, spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr., led to the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). This legislation, passed by Congress, prohibited racial segregation and discrimination in voting, education, employment, and housing.
These new laws did not end racism and discrimination; however, since the 60's we have worked as a nation to pursue injustice as we seek to continue our founding fathers’ goal of one nation that supports freedom for all of its citizens.
SERVICE: A mission of the Cape Cod Home Learners Cooperative.
On Jan. 19, 2015 we honor Martin Luther King who once said: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"
Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on this holiday to serve their communities. The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, a federal program managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This federal agency is charged with promoting volunteering and national service so that Americans from all walks of life can work together to provide solutions to our nations most pressing problems.
The Cape Cod Home Learners Cooperative incorporates public service in our missionstatement. Each year our group takes on a community service event or project that supports the educational theme for our yearly program. This year our group’s focus is the core American values of individual rights and freedoms.
In September we began with early American Literature that deepened our understanding of the American dialogue on faith and human nature. It is this dialogue that allowed America’s founders to make provisions for the social, religious, and political freedoms that exist in ourcountry today.
In November, we participated in the Plymouth Thanksgiving Celebration by creating a banner for the Food and Wine Festival. This banner--Land of the Free, Because of the Brave —as well as our table display—highlighted 12 people who participated in our national civil rights journey.
Today we move forward to the mid/late 1800's where we will study the causes and effects of the Civil War through the written word of speeches, short stories, novels, poetry, plays, eyewitness accounts, diary entries, and newspaper articles.It is our hope to revisit these times in order to gain a greater understanding of the race issues we face today. We also look forward to attendingthe play, Father Come Home From the War, Parts1, 2 & 3.
Set during the Civil War, this powerful new dramais by Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks. Thetrilogy examines “the mess of war and the cost of freedom”.
We will end our year with American poetry and the American premier of an opera composed by Matthew Aucion.
“Inspired by the diary Walt Whitman kept as a nurse during the Civil War, this world premiere opera explores how the individual experiences of soldiers are remembered and told”.
Our Co-op experiences this year ask the questions: “What is our role as students, adults, and citizens with regard to civil rights? How do we express and uphold the values that our nation was founded upon? How do we participate as individuals in the human experience? How do we honor, learn about, and respect the past in order to gain a greater understanding of civil rights today?”
It is my hope that our program this year will lead students toward a greater understanding and appreciation of the rights we as Americans enjoyand celebrate on Martin Luther King Day. I pray we all are inspired to continue to honor the MLKlegacy by upholding civil rights for others tomorrow.