Updated 12:20 p.m. 1.15.16

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”


The inspiring words and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fuel countless classroom discussions, activities and service projects throughout the year. As we prepare for the observance of our National holiday honoring Dr. King on January 18, the students and staff of Indianapolis Public Schools are learning about this extraordinary leader, visionary and humanitarian and carrying out his message in a variety of ways.


“Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood”.


The students of Center for Inquiry (CFI) School 2 are celebrating Dr. King through the arts; an annual student-led singalong brings the entire school together to enjoy music highlighting the powerful message of peace Dr. King shared throughout his life. Students from Kindergarten and second and fourth grades shared their favorite poems and short stories about peace at the assembly as well.


CFI 2 students also learn about the lasting impact Dr. King’s tireless efforts for the Civil Rights Movement had on our nation. As classes dive into his challenges and successes, students compare the work of Civil Rights activists in the 1950s and 1960s to other groups fighting for equality throughout history and in the present day.


Fifth Grade student Natalie C.’s takeaway from her studies of Dr. King is simple yet powerful: “It’s important for everyone to have equal rights and to be treated fairly.”

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School is known for a commitment to service; students embody Dr. King’s dedication to serving others by spending thousands of hours on projects to support our community. On January 16, Shortridge students are teaming up with the Peace Learning Center as they volunteer at the 18th Annual MLK Community Festival. This free, family-friendly event takes place at Christian Theological Seminary (1000 West 42nd Street) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The festival features live entertainment, social justice workshops, a community resource fair and more.


“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”


IPS is proud to honor Dr. King’s life and legacy each year with a televised tribute. Our 35th annual celebration, organized by the IPS Office of Racial Equity, took place on January 15 from 10-11 a.m. at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School. The tribute was broadcast live on the Education Television Channel (ETC 19-3) and an online livestream so all classrooms could view this powerful event.


This year’s tribute theme was “Let There be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me.” Dr. King was celebrated through performances by students from Crispus Attucks, Center for Inquiry School 84 Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities and Arsenal Technical High School.

Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee spoke at the tribute, impressing upon students and other attendees the importance of Dr. King’s message of service – especially in a time when the entire nation can get swept up in Powerball fever.
“Let us measure our wealth not by the dollars in our bank accounts, but by the people we positively impact in our lives,” said Dr. Ferebee. “We need to leave a lasting impression on those in need and those around us.”
Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell of the U.S. Department of Education shared the story of her struggles in school as the first member of her family to experience education after school integration. Despite many adults in her life telling her she wouldn’t succeed, Rev. Girton-Mitchell’s mantra of ‘Don’t get bitter, get better!” pushed her to aim her goals high and become a leader in our nation’s educational system.
“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Rev. Girton as she commended IPS for our commitment to increasing awareness within the district and our community for racial equity. “For 35 years, this school district in promoting racial understanding through this program and more broadly by creating the Office of Multicultural Education. Not every school system has one. The work you’re doing to promote racial equity and your commitment to cultural competency within the school system is extraordinary!”

“This program is designed to help students of all ages acknowledge and appreciate the struggles of those who went before them,” said program coordinator Dr. Patricia Payne. “It sends the urgent message that they must be willing to develop an educated mind, spirited work ethic, courageous leadership skills, and an undaunted commitment to social justice and racial equity.” 


We are proud of the many ways our students, staff and community partners honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the classroom and throughout our city; we know the study of his life and work will leave a lasting effect as our students grow to become service-minded, peaceful and empowered citizens!