King’s message heard throughout the year at Hinsdale high schools
Nia Anderson of Willowbroo, rehearses a dance with the Urban Arts Club of Hinsdale South High School. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:10PM
HINSDALE — Schools are closed Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
But the students learn about King’s impact in a variety of classes during the year.
“We teach about (King) in the context of (Mahatma) Gandhi and (César) Chávez in our world cultures and history courses, but he is highlighted specifically in U.S. history and AP U.S. history,” said Jessica Hurt, chairman of Hinsdale Central’s social studies department.
An African-American history class also is offered at the sophomore level. Five sessions of the class, with about 25 students in each, are being held this school year.
The students read King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” sent to white ministers who perceived him as an outsider bringing demonstrations to Birmingham, said teacher Noah Lawrence.
In that letter, King writes, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Lawrence also explores King’s understanding of morality and the law. King believes there are two types of laws: just and unjust, which he also explains in his letter from the jail. King advocates obeying just laws, but says people have a moral obligation not to follow laws that are unjust, Lawrence said.
“African-Americans are particularly unique among all immigrants because they were the one group brought here against their will,” Lawrence said.
Their fight for equality “helped the country live up to its ideals stated in the Constitution.”
At Hinsdale South, a group of students are preparing to pay tribute to King in a performance set for Feb. 21.
“The theme is Restore the Dream, going back to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream,” said Ayesha Truman, faculty sponsor of the school’s Urban Arts Club.
The second annual production will celebrate King’s life and African American History, Truman said, as well as some often underutilized talents of the club’s members.
In preparation for the show, club members are researching King’s life and his “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963.
“His speech will frame the entire performance,” which will include music, spoken word, skits and dancing, Truman said.
Sandy Illian Bosch contributed to this article.