The Martin Luther King Youth Program
The over-arching goal of the Martin Luther King Youth Program is to inspire and empower high school students to become effective advocates and allies for peaceful social change on issues of violence, prejudice and discrimination.
The MLK Program is a product of the work of the Ceceilyn Miller Institute for Leadership and Diversity in America (CMI). The CMI is a human relations, consulting, and training non-profit organization. We are dedicated to helping individuals, groups, and systems function more effectively as people and communities.
This program includes three phases: a week-long summer residential camp, a conflict resolution training weekend during the following fall, and a final training weekend during the next spring.
Participants in the MLK Youth Program will gain the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to create and implement an action plan to help effect positive social change in their schools and/or communities.
•Knowledge and appreciation of the scope and history of the struggle against violence, prejudice and discrimination of all kinds.
•Knowledge and appreciation regarding the core concepts taught by Dr. King, including the principles of non-violence, the steps of non-violent social change, and the creation of the Beloved Community.
•Knowledge and awareness regarding racism, sexism, religious and cultural prejudice, classism and homophobia.
•Critical social and emotional intelligence skills, including:
Active, attentive listening
Managing difficult emotions
Non-violent conflict resolution skills
•Feeling concern for others and acting accordingly
•Experiencing the value and power of the “The Beloved Community”
•Wanting and learning how to help others share their learning experience.
•Creating and implementing a plan for an event, program or project to share what they have learned with others in their own schools and/or communities
•Helping program staff to evaluate and improve the program
Staff Arrival Day: The Staff will arrive at camp the day before the students arrive, in order to review any changes to the program, become familiar with the facilities and to prepare for the arrival of the students.
Day 1: Building Community: The Legacy of Dr. King
The first day of the program will include an introduction to the life and mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This overview will be conveyed by the staff of King’s Camp, along with the goal of empowering participants to become effective advocates and allies for peaceful, positive social change.
On Day One, students will also experience many enjoyable team-building activities and discussions to help them feel start to feel safe and comfortable. They will experience the process of developing their own norms and begin to create a feeling of community.
On each subsequent day of the week-long camp, participants will continue to develop the trust and group bonds essential for effective team-work, and the safety net needed to explore issues of diversity and advocacy.
In short, our goal is to help participants create and experience a microcosm of the Beloved Community, “genuine inter-group and inter-personal living” where “Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood... [and] disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution….”
Day 2: Foundations of Prejudice
This day will focus on helping students to understand the origin of prejudice, and the vicious cycle that it creates with agent and target groups, as well as the history and scope of the struggle against discrimination in our country. The first discussion groups will also meet to reinforce the theme of the day and to begin to discuss with the students issues in their own schools and communities.
Day 3: Race and Cultural Awareness
The terms ‘privilege’ and ‘target’ will be introduced in order to reinforce the theme of the day. Day 3 will also be highlighted by activities that help students examine racial, cultural and religious prejudice within the United States, using the concepts of privilege and power.
Day 4: Gender and Sexual Orientation
The Sexual Orientation session will begin to identify the power and privilege components of sexuality. The stigma associated with homosexuality and bisexuality will also be examined in this session.
The evening activity will center on the disparities of power and privilege between men and women. An historical perspective will be offered to clarify the gains that have been made by women, and the areas still needing progress and change.
Day 5: Class and Stratification
On the fifth day, the students will be asked to reflect on what they have learned thus far throughout the week. Then, the notion of class will be introduced. An examination of class in the United States will challenge students to make connections between bias, racism, sexism, homophobia, religious and cultural prejudice, and classism,
Day 6: “Speaking Up” as an Advocate and Ally
The sixth day will empower students with tools that they can use to implement change in their schools and/or communities. In addition, the student teams will be asked to create a plan of action (e.g., a program, workshop, and/or event) that will highlight one area of diversity covered during the week, in order to raise awareness and make a positive impact on the issue in their home setting. On the eve of the students’ return home, the final evening program will culminate in a celebration of the students’ cultures.
Day 7: Closing/ Going Home
The final half-day will begin with a reading of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the morning meeting, as all members of the community assemble together in a final affirmation of their experience together and their goal of becoming change agents. The rest of the day will consist of the students and staff celebrating and closing the connections that they have made in their discussion groups and other circles.
Advanced Conflict Resolution Weekend (Fall)
This weekend will reinvigorate the students and staff and reconnect them with the mission of the Martin Luther King Youth Program. Student teams will present and discuss their progress on their action plans, as well as the pitfalls and challenges they are encountering. Additionally, they will review the principles of nonviolence and peaceful conflict resolution. Finally, the students will learn and practice critical communication and conflict resolution skills and strategies, and discuss how they may be applied to their action plans.
Spring Training Weekend
The final weekend training program for the King Camp will serve as the closure for the groups’ year together. During this weekend, the student teams will present and discuss the status of their action plans. Then the participants will re-examine their mission as leaders, advocates, and allies, as they discuss how they will continue their work. Finally, each student will be honored in a special ceremony that will acknowledge their accomplishments and their commitment to the mission and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.