RACINE – Before he was our nation’s greatest civil rights leader, Martin Luther King liked to play baseball.
He also liked riding his bike and doing many of the same things today’s kids enjoy.
“The kids get excited when they learn that,” said Mary Frienly, outreach manager for the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Wisconsin and founder of the annual Martin Luther King Celebration at the Racine Public Library.
In its third year, the library celebration on Jan. 21 – Martin Luther King Day - is designed for children and their families.
Organizers use hands-on activities and stories of King throughout his life to inspire kids to learn more about his message of love, peace and non-violence.
Frienly created the celebration after realizing there were no King events specifically for children. Given the Girl Scouts long-standing commitment to equality – King himself acknowledged the organization as a “force for desegregation” – Frienly decided to act.
“There were things for adults, but nothing for kids,” she said about King celebrations. “That was a big oversight.”
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Hands and Voices in Unity,” and will include learning about how spiritual and protest songs merged during he civil rights movement. Three songs chosen for this year’s program include “Blowing in the Wind,” “Had A Hammer,” and “Freedom Land.”
Children will also be able to participate in a creative project to design hands that will stretch across the library’s windows as a symbol of the peace marches for civil rights.
The program will run from 6-7:30 p.m. at the library, 75 Seventh St., in Racine. It’s free and open to the public.
Frienly said even though the celebration is aimed at children, it’s the adults who end up wanting to learn more about King.
“The last two years it’s the adults who go into the stacks and want books about King, or ask the reference librarians for recording or speeches on CDs. It’s amazing everything the library has.”
For more information about the celebration, or about Girl Scouts, contact Frienly at (262) 598-9190.