Marching Loofah Thing

Moomin and I were singing the Internationale in the car. Afterwards he said, “You know, Mom, I think that song is kind of a — —– song.”

“A what? Marching Loofah? What?” (I am a little deaf.)

“No!!! MARTIN LOOFAH! Martin Luther King!”

“Oh! Right. Yes, I guess you could say so. Astute observation.”

“It’s a good song for him, because it has the parts about not having racism, and about fighting, but fighting with love.”

I cried a little, that was so sweet.

(Then I felt incredibly dumb, like I was Sally playing Pictionary (scroll down to bottom of page.) Sometimes it’s not my ears that are a little deaf.)
Anyway. I suggest that to observe the day, parents and children should share some famous songs and speeches that honor ideas of social justice.

Moomin especially likes the comic book “graphic biographies” we check out from the library, including Martin Luther King Jr.: Great Civil Rights Leader, which I liked and can recommend.

Now for activities!

There are some boring-ass worksheets on the net out there, I’m warning you! Take some time to dig deeper until you find good information. I’m going to try a simple history printout and then a KWL worksheet, like this one: Martin Luther King KWL. You write what you Know, what you Want to know, and what you Learned. I’m printing several out so that we can all do this worksheet as a family.

This Word Search is good if your kid likes them. Here’s a nice coloring book page from I also like their basic fact sheet which is just about the right level to appeal to a smart 6 year old. There is also a cut, color, and staple “Teeny Tiny Book” about Martin Luther King that looks good. There’s damali ayo‘s flash cards! And if I can get Moomin to watch the whole “I have a dream” speech on YouTube, that would be nice, but if not, I’ll play him Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King (Which you can buy on iTunes if you like.) We’ll also listen to “We Shall Overcome” and sing along! (There is no punk ska cover of “We Shall Overcome.” I looked for it hard.)

The version of “The Internationale” Moomin and I were singing was from lyrics written by Billy Bragg as a result of a conversation with Pete Seeger:

Let racist ignorance be ended
For respect makes the empires fall
Freedom is merely privilege extended
Unless enjoyed by one and all

and further lyrics Moomin was citing:

When we fight, provoked by their aggression
Let us be inspired by like and love
For though they offer us concessions
Change will not come from above.

Here are some other versions of the lyrics of the Internationale, from multiple languages. And the Wikipedia article on the Internationale has multiple versions with a bit of history and explanation thrown in. I had no idea they sang it in Tiananmen Square. With a little casual googling I found a page with dozens of downloadable versions of the song, including the Billy Bragg version.

Happy Martin Luther King Day, y’all.

Next year I think I’ll invite everyone I know to send songs for a mix CD, and then I’ll give MLK Day presents (comic books!) and cards. It really is a great holiday and I want to put forth some effort to make it part of our family tradition.

Please let me know in the comments if you did a family activity, and what it was! Also, if you have more links to web resources feel free to share them.

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9 Responses to Marching Loofah Thing

  1. With Hammer And Tong says:

    As a poet, and an avid reader, I have to say that I very much enjoyed my leisurely stroll through your blog…it was time well spent; entertaining and enlightening. I invite you to visit my own, if you like…

  2. elswhere says:

    Our observance (not surprisingly) was book-based: we read "Show Way", by Jacqueline Woodson, and Nikki Giovanni's gorgeous "Rosa" which tells the *real* story of Rosa Parks, complete with the unglamorous parts like committee meetings and printing up stencils. And MG sang us the song she learned for the MLK Assembly at her school, which started "Hallelujah, I'm a' Travellin'" and to my great surprise used the same tune as "Hallelujah I'm a Bum." My guess it was a gospel song or spiritual and then got parodied during the Depression…

  3. heather_day says:

    Hey again!I posted a little while ago when you wrote about the I Can Fix It guide – I thought this post was really great too and forwarded to friends working with children today.Those are some really good resources!Happy MLK DayKeep up the good work!-Heather Day,Assistant to damali ayo

  4. Liz says:

    And to round it all out here's a great code poem for the webdev nerds among you:HTMLK

  5. Anonymous says:

    loofah KANG! what a riot. in your own "proving i'm not racist" way, you proved your racism by letting the world know that Mooman (um, okay) pronounces words incorrectly just like african americans do! next you'll be hearing 'toofbrush' and 'aks' for the word ask. and to believe sociaty actually tried to get people to belive there was a "language" such as ebonics!loofah KANG!

  6. Liz says:

    You're nuts, he's a little kid and lisps all the time! I think you are missing the point. But if you seriously want to get into it and explain racism to me, go right ahead !

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