MLK Day Learning Resources for Every Age

Last updated: January 12, 2022, at 12:31 p.m. PT

Originally published: January 10, 2022, at 5:32 p.m. PT

learning resources

The Y has a history of equity, commitment to community and Black liberation going back decades. 

Amid racist laws and attitudes, which made it difficult for people of color to move freely and safely about the country, simple things like driving, eating out, or trying to find a place to sleep became calculated risks for non-white people. In the 1860s, Ys became a refuge when they began offering safe and affordable housing, laundry, and public kitchens to young men moving to cities from rural areas. 

“Facilities included gyms, auditoriums, and hotel-like rooms,” writes Hannibal B. Johnson. "Notable African American leaders, including Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young, sought safe haven at the Y.” 

As a child, Dr. King also sought safe haven at the Y. It was at the Atlanta, Georgia Y that he learned to swim. 

Dr. King and the Y 

MLK Day provides us with the opportunity to learn more about ourselves as a nation and community and challenges us to seek ways to be better.  

As an organization, we are committed to centering antiracist, equitable work at the core of all our efforts, by placing those most impacted by racism and furthest from opportunity at the center of our work.  

Our focus on culturally responsive, trauma- informed intersectional equity work is led by the Equity and Justice Center of Excellence, which has carried out internal equity and justice trainings, healing circles, and ongoing equity and justice assessments of all our programs, to help us establish long term goals. 

In this spirit, we honor the story of Dr. King that is rarely told in a quick meme: his lesser known yet very pivotal shift into what he called the triple threat to justice.  

Dr. King’s three keys to a more equitable society 

Dr. King began sharing his understanding of how global policies (like the polices that led to the Vietnam War) and domestic policies (like Jim Crow) are inextricably linked, with both carrying the same messages of economic oppression, war, and racism. Only through addressing the root causes behind these three areas, and his belief that oppressed people can change systems and institutions that hold racism, poverty and militarism, can real equity and justice be obtained for all

This is the real dream, and one that can still be achieved today. 

To do this work, the Y is committed to learning, inviting others in to engage with anti-racist work, and advancing equity and justice for all. 

Today, we invite you to walk with the Y, and embrace new learning and volunteering opportunities. 

Through a curriculum, amassed from Black activists, scholars, educators, and connectors, we invite you to explore Dr. King’s story, his dream, and how it connects to our current day struggles and triumphs.  

Broken down by age range and where one might feel they fall on the racial identity continuum, these learning aids incorporate local, national and global voices. 

Our choice to lift Black scholars' voices is intentional and directly linked to Dr. King’s understanding of economic justice, racial justice, equitable justice and global justice. 

As you navigate these readings, we invite you to continue the learning by engaging with us on social media. Did you learn something new? Did something spark a memory you want to share? Do you have additional questions or readings you’d like us to consider for our next update? Let us know using #MLK of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and let’s continue the learning and discussion.