ALAMEDA -- As a girl growing up in her native Nashville, Tenn., Loretta Holt had perhaps a passing interest in the works of Martin Luther King Jr. As a young adult some years after King's 1968 assassination, Holt came to passionately embrace the civil rights leader's methods and visions.

Today, Holt shares her passion for what King stood for with her kindergarten class at Lum Elementary School as part of the school's social studies curriculum.

"What I do when I'm teaching this unit is that I teach the nonviolence aspect of it so they know how to treat each other," Holt said. "It's important that they learn good life skills."

In the meantime, the students receive a valuable lesson about a chapter in U.S. history. The curriculum ties in with the celebration of King's birthday. On Jan. 18, for instance, one kindergarten class recited a poem in tribute to King. Later, Holt's own kindergartners got up individually to recite brief tributes to King as some of their parents watched. Afterward, the kindergarten classes got together to watch a video that included King's famous 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech.

"(The students) learn that it's important to judge people by their character," Lum Principal Cammie Harris said. "It goes along with our anti-bullying curriculum."

King was born Jan. 15, 1929. A federal law enacted in 1983 stipulates the celebration of the King holiday to take place on the third Monday in January. This year's holiday happened to coincide with President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

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