MLK and Sports
On Monday, January 15th, the nation honors the memory of Martin Luther King Jr for his heroic, nonviolent leadership. His 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial served as a powerful call to action, resulting in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination and racial segregation in public places, including sports arenas and schools. To celebrate, we invite our 2-4-1 family to consider how sports align with Dr. King’s commitment to connection, peaceful conflict resolution, and social justice.
Strength through Diversity: Teamwork makes the dream work
Dr. King’s dream and core message urges us to celebrate our diversity as a strength. The idea of us all being created equal does not mean that we are all the same. In sports, athletes combine their energy, ability, and strength in their assigned positions with a shared purpose. The most successful teams find ways to put personal differences aside, including comparisons of who can run the fastest or throw the farthest to work together on the field or the court. Not everyone can score the goal, make every basket, or hit the winning run. It is important to remember that combined skills and team efforts make these moments possible. On the flip side, when things do not work in our favor, we can lift one another’s spirits, take responsibility to learn from our errors and prepare for the next opportunity to shine.
Sports are a form of nonviolence
Although Dr. King’s philosophy and core values focus on social justice, sports of all kinds provide opportunities to compete with a focus on safety, fairness, and civility. Think about how the rules of a game, the function of different positions, and the role of a referee or umpire provide a consistently organized and neutral context for all levels of competition. No matter where we are- all across Connecticut, in Denver or Boulder, Colorado, or Gastonia, North Carolina- 2-4-1 programs emphasize positive fun- to enhance our campers’ love of play, their sense of well-being, connection and joy.
For the love of the game: Sports have the power to bring us together.
For the past two years, 2-4-1 has found ways to increase access to our sports enrichment programs through our partnerships with Active City in Hartford, Denver Public Schools, CREC, Hartford Public Schools, New Britain Public Schools, Wellness for Greatness, Kenya, and 2-4-1 Care Sport Foundation in Zambia. Thanks to grants from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, COVID-19 relief funds, and private donations, 2-4-1 has provided free-of-cost before, after-school, summer, weekend and community-based programs to over 1300 kids across the globe. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we are especially proud to partner with magnet schools, whose purpose is to offer high-quality education to racially and socio-economically diverse school communities.
As we reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the incredible 2-4-1 campers, students, and partners as members of our global family, exemplifying the transformative power of sports in uniting us all.
About Julie Goldstein
As the Chief Program Officer at 2-4-1, Dr. Julie Goldstein is at the forefront of pioneering initiatives that fuse her profound experiences in educational settings with her passion for social-emotional learning (SEL), crafting unparalleled programs that resonate with children across the world. Findings from her recent Sacred Heart University doctoral study determined how 2-4-1’s high-quality SEL practices and TOP Self™ curriculum support student well-being and connection, contributing to positive school climate. Julie’s current role emphasizes the natural integration of physical literacy development with SEL, setting a precedent for how we empower the next generation to thrive both physically and emotionally. With an unwavering dedication to fostering the success and well-being of students, educators, and families alike, Julie leverages her tenure as a former principal of award-winning interdistrict magnet schools combined with her background in fitness to bring equity and excellence into the fabric of education. Her role as a board member of Magnet Schools of America and her involvement as a fellow with Teach for All and Leadership for Educational Equity underscore her commitment to equitable educational opportunities. A systemic scholar-practitioner specializing in Social-Emotional and Academic Leadership, Julie’s strategic approaches are not just theoretical but proven in practice, with a clear track record of effectiveness. Her strategy is to interlace the vision and mission at both the district and school levels with the principles of improvement science, creating a synergistic blueprint for success. Julie’s vision is to enact change on a global scale, ensuring that the innate potential of every child is nurtured through the delicate balance of physical prowess and emotional intelligence. She stands as a testament to the transformative power of dedicated educational leadership and the profound impact it can have on students and school communities