Living abroad as an American I often worry about my children’s knowledge and understanding of American Current Events and History. We have imported games about America, we have discussions at dinner and we visit America at least once a year. For some reason I feel what is missing most of all around Martin Luther King’s Day each year. I brought a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. to my son’s classroom a few years back; the students all thought it was about Obama. When asked why I would be reading this book in January not one of them knew. I am not blaming the education my children probably know a lot more about Chinese holidays, politics and history than kids living elsewhere. They will learn American history eventually, either in school or from my husband and me. When Selma came to Hong Kong for an Oscar preview I immediately got tickets to take my 10 year old, an opportunity for him to learn through his favorite medium movies.
We both enjoyed the movie and had some interesting conversations after it but after reading Stephen Becton’s blog we will need to have another talk about the movie. Writing for the organization Facing History, Facing Ourselves Becton turns the movie into an opportunity for discussion not only about civil rights history or justice in America but how to recognize these issues in any community worldwide.
Becton’s whole blog post is worth reading as it puts the movie and the discussion with children into context and has an activity suggestion. Particularly helpful are the questions Becton raises:
Here are some guided questions that a parent or another adult can use to engage young people in a post-viewing discussion of Selma:
- The film is called Selma and not King. Why do you think filmmakers chose this name?
- Why would people risk their lives to stand up for the right to vote?
- What were the different strategies that those involved in the movement for voting rights debated?
- What were the different choices that people made throughout the time portrayed in the film that allowed for forward momentum in the movement for voting rights?
- What does this film add to your understanding of the civil rights movement? What would you like to know more about?
- Discuss a moment of courage in the movie that resonated with you.
- The March from Selma to Montgomery was a courageous demonstration. Can you think of other times in American history or today when groups of people came together to make change?
- What issue of unfairness in your community, country, or world do you think still need to be addressed.
- What is the most effective way to try to change these issues? What can you do among your friends, in your school, or in your community to help?
From: BECTON, S., Raising Ethical Children Discussing the Film “Selma” with Young People Raising Ethical Children
Our conversations don’t only need to be about American history but can also be about places we travel to and where we are living now, Hong Kong. During the Oscars Common brought up worldwide comparisons to the Selma march.
“The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the South Side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life, to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression to the people in Hong Kong protesting for democracy,” said Common.
After reading this article my next conversation with my son was much more fruitful, we discussed voting rights in Hong Kong, how he as a child often feels his views are discounted and how helpers in Hong Kong are treated. This conversation will continue when we travel both to America this summer and to other countries. Raising ethical children requires having these conversations about both history and the problems in the world today.