Remembering Dirk on MLK Day

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives” Dr. King

A son of Georgia, a brethren of Atlanta, and a fellow Capricorn, we celebrate the Peach State’s native son, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In my hometown of Atlanta, GA, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, King served as a minister. Growing up in Georgia, the MLK holiday weekend always had a buzz. My family and I would all gather to see the MLK Day parade coming down the streets of my small town of Dublin, Georgia which is 2 hours southeast of Atlanta. The movie The Boy King played on local TV on repeat throughout the weekend, alerting me that  the holiday was here! Visiting the historic King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, located in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, symbols ignited action to fight against injustices everywhere. 

As I awakened on this special  Day to watch the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service at the  Ebenezer Baptist Church, I continue to be in awe of the impact Dr. King continues to have on our world. The loss and tragedy has led to a national holiday, hearts being opened, and racism being tackled. Yet his non-violent quest for equity and voting rights for Black and poor people in this country is not finished. The victory has not been won, and the struggle remains for generations after this warrior’s passing.  I thank God that his spirit  and legacy continues to live on today. 

 It is that same passion that evoked great figures like ourDirk Tillotson, founder of the State of Black Education OaklanGreat School Voices.I’d be remiss if I did not think of my good friend and warrior, Dirk Tillotson on this holiday. It was only a year ago that I was honored at the annual 202! State of Black Education Oakland Black Excellence Awards as an Impact Awardee. It was truly a memorable night of honoring Black excellence. I will always treasure and remember that evening because it allowed my family, friends, and colleagues across the country to see the fruition of my work. Dirk, like MLK remains a beacon of hope and used his skills to ensure that every student in Oakland, specifically Black and Brown ones, have access to a quality education.. Through his campaigns  like  decrease the digital divide, Oakland Reach’s Golden Ticket Campaign, and most recently the Dump The D campaign with Energy Convertors and FIA Oakland, he amplified the voices of parents, students, and teachers through Great School Voices, and worked tirelessly with partners for lasting policy change in Oakland.  

We must embrace non-violence. Violence cut short the lives of  Dr. King, and Oakland’s hero, Dirk.  Gn violence plagues  the Oakland community on a daily basis. I personally have known former students whose lives were ended prematurely or impacted negatively  due to gun violence. This is not the future we want for our children.

In the mighty words of Dr, King, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” I believe that Dirk truly embodied this quote.  His flame will never be extinguished, because of all of us are working to keep his legacy alive.As a high school administrator I am pushing for non-violence on my campus and have infused restorative justice practices into our behavior and culture plans. Below are a few great ways to reinstate non violence in our scholars and young people! Keep fighting and organizing children! Then we can one day say in the words of Rev. King,  “free at last, free at last thank God almighty free at last.

A few resources for students, parents, and educators

Oakland Based Documentary

“Trilogy on Oakland’s Institutional” ends with student voice via “Homeroom”

Learning from Justice formally Teaching for Tolerance 

Lesson Plans

The True History of Voting Rights | Learning for Justice

The Best of Our Dr. Martin Luther KIng Jr. Teaching Resources

The Best of Our Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Resources | Learning for Justice

The KIng Center Resources 

Beloved Community Teach In Coursework

Thanks For Registering – The King Center (fill to unlock coursework pdf’s)

Students with King Programming for (K-12)

Students with King – The King Center

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