My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers by Christine King Farris
In this book we get a new perspective in the telling of Martin Luther King’s life. His sister describes King’s early years as a child living in a prejudice community. There are many true accounts of Martin’s life before he was fully aware of racism. When he does become aware of the prejudice that exists in his town he vows to his mother that he will one day “turn this world upside down.”
I was immediately attracted to this book by the title. Though I have seen many books about Martin Luther King Jr., I had never read an account on Martin’s life told by his sister and it felt like the story would be more intimate. The illustrations are vivid and draw in the reader to Martin’s childhood home. It explains the closeness he shared with his parents, grandparents, and siblings. In this book Martin the hero, is relatable and his everyday actions could be that of any children. When his two best friends, that are white, tell him and his brother that they can not play together because they “were negroes,” Martin is faced with the prejudice that will shape his life from them on. This is a significant point in the story because of they way Martin handles the situation. I would stress this point when discussing the book with students. There would need also to be a discussion on some of the language used in the book such as bigotry and segregation.
- Students can write about what they would do if they were in Martin’s situation and were told they could not play with their friends because of skin color. The teacher can show the illustration on page 22 while students are writing. The emphasis of the writing can be on what action could Martin take to better the situation.
- In the back of the book there is a poem called “You Can Be Like Martin” by Mildred D. Johnson. Students can write their own version of “You Can Be Like Martin after some discussion on strong personality traits.
- A unit on the Civil Rights Movement.
- An autobiography study people in history that made a difference or change against an injustice.
- A self character study, personality characteristics that make a strong, respectable person.
Social Justice Education:
1. Self-love and Acceptance: Students will learn about different accepting others regardless of race. Building on that are discussions on character and how to be a good person.
2. Respect for Others: Though Martin is not treated with respect by his friends he does treat others kindly and preaches to others to do the same.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This book discusses racism, segregation and prejudice.
4. Social Movements and Social Change: The Civil Rights Movement.
5. Taking Social Action: When Martin grows up he leads marches against segregation and recites speeches.