MLK Day Resource – The Montgomery Story

There are a million websites already talking about Dr. King and his holiday, and I’m not going to be the million and first to make the same suggestions.

However, if you’re looking for something a little different to use this year, I’d like to direct your attention to this website, home of a comic book written specifically about Dr. King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The comic was published in 1958, and the language used within it (especially in reference to African-Americans), reflects that, so you’ll need to do some explaining before using it with children.

mlk day teaching resourceThe story generally conveys the facts of the boycott, but with an emphasis on next steps and further action. Because the work of Dr. King and of the group that published the comic came from a similar Christian background, you will find numerous references to religion – if this bothers you, you might want to choose another resource. For our family, though, it’s an excellent fit.

The truth of the boycott was scary, and the comic doesn’t shy away from that. The bombing attempt on Dr. King’s house, the protests of the Kl@n in downtown Montgomery, and the persistent harassment of boycott participants are all included. For that reason, I don’t recommend this for very young children or children who have experience violence and trauma.

On a practical note, this comic book can be found in its entirety at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford. (If you want a primary source created by or written about Dr. King, they probably have it, and they have posted it in an accessible format. Those folks do some good work!) Anyway, use the PDF version of the comic at the link above if you’ve waited just a bit to late this year, and need something immediately.

In my opinion, Dr. King’s work has too often been boiled down to a lot of kumbaya and not a lot of struggle. This simple comic book – which has been reprinted so that you can purchase a hard copy – is amazing as a primary source document from the Movement, and as a teaching tool for helping kids understand this not-so-long-ago time in our country’s past.

{This is the comic that was translated into Arabic by an Egyptian activist in 2011. Read more here.}