Reflecting on MLK’s Legacy
Written by
Janelle Stear
January 2020
Written by
Janelle Stear
January 2020

A Tweet today from LA County Sheriff’s office states: 

“‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today I’m reflecting on Dr. King’s words as we honor his legacy #SheriffV #mlkday #mlkday2020.


As a teacher, I seek to instill in my students the values taught by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Equality, Faith, Nonviolence, Education, Love, Leadership, Selflessness, Hope,” (Dower). The reality is kids are going to be kids no matter what you do. They are mini-adults trying to figure out life, relationships, and acceptance. 

Image result for hold my daughter's hand quoteAs a parent, I have held my daughter close as she cried over the bullies on the bus who pick on everyone younger than them. I have tried to talk through the harsh realities of middle school (loneliness, rejection, and pressure to fit in), without having any answers except that it will be over soon. Taking it one day at a time helps when you can cross off the bad days on the calendar and focus on the blessings of each day as a family. 

At the same time, I understand the value in children having to face adversities to a point. In an article titled, “How to Let your Kids Fail,” Diane Tavener explains:

Image result for adversities“Often the solution is to let our kids fail – in small ways. Try taking a step back. Be willing to be needed differently. Give feedback and guidance rather than answers. Ask questions that help your child reflect on what they want, who they are, what they care about, how they feel, and, ultimately, what they should do as a result.” 

Of course, there are limits to the adversities I will let my children experience.  Facing bullies daily is not okay. Certainly it is an emergency if you realize your child is being bullied to the point of thinking about committing suicide. Talk to your school administrators and counselors. They are there to help.  

I will never get why people bully others, except perhaps that extreme changes in family dynamics, like divorce, physical or emotional abuse, or abandonment, that can create traumatic stress, making it hard from which to recover. A person’s choices in how they react to others are his or her own. I have seen first hand how students who come from broken homes always seem to have a wall blocking them from seeing the good in people. I cannot speak for these students. I cannot help them all. I do know that the right kind of kindness at the right time eventually can break their self-imposed barriers to find peace and acceptance for themselves and others. 

In my memoir, Married to an Atheist A Love Story from Idaho, I write: 

“Healing… takes longer, and more often, takes courage and perseverance to want to heal. When I went back to school to become a teacher, I did not know how it would exasperate my hidden depression, my unacknowledged anxiety,” (p. 324). 

Sometimes you have to let yourself try something to find out it is not right for you. I always try to remind my daughters and my students that no matter what you are going through, you can not know what someone else is going through, even those bullies at school. More often than not, we can help each other overcome our own adversities. 

The legacy left by Dr. King, Jr. is that we know we are all humans who deserve to have safety, shelter, and love. There is nothing greater than showing love to others. Kindness is key. 

Today, I am honored to have this day off from work all because of the difference made by one man not too long ago. Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and all of those working to bring peace to our country in your name! 

Image result for mlk day 2020

image from

Today, I am honored to have this day off from work all because of the difference made by one man not too long ago. Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and all of those working to bring peace to our country in your name! 



@LASDHQm LA County Sheriff, 20 Jan 2020, Tweet Text (Tweet).

Dower, Erin. “8 MLK Jr. Values to Instill in Your Kids.”, N.D.

Stear, Janelle. Married to an Atheist A Love Story from Idaho. 29 Sept 2019.

Tavenner, Diane. “How to Let Your Kids Fail.” Time USA, LLC, 26 Sep 2019.

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