Live Mic: Utah coach says lessons of MLK should be taught year-round

Jan 18, 2021, 6:07 PM
The lessons of MLK...
Coach Kamaal S. Ahmad was featured in a viral video pleading with protesters in Salt Lake City not to loot a convenience store. He shared his perspective on being Black in Utah with Dave & Dujanovic last summer, and again on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Lee Lonsberry. Photo credit: Lee Benson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Teacher and Weber State assistant coach Kamaal Ahmad believes schools should provide MLK lessons year round, not just on the day that bears Martin Luther King Jr.’s name.

On KSL NewsRadio’s “Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry,” Ahmad said reading the civil rights leader’s moving autobiography led him to stop the looting of a 7-Eleven store during a protest gone awry in Salt Lake City last summer.


Read, learn and lead: lessons from MLK

Ahmad asked why we don’t read and analyze Martin Luther King’s autobiography in schools across the country, year-round. He described it as one of the most amazing books he’s ever read.

“How every school is not dissecting that book across this country . . . I don’t know how that’s not happening,” Ahmad said, adding that reading King’s autobiography would make everyone a better person.

He said we should celebrate authors like Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, not just during Black History Month, but in literature classes all year round. 

Ahmad said if schools don’t include these books in their curriculum, we should read them at home — and discuss them with friends and families.

Ahmad said his reading of the MLK autobiography in February of last year motivated him to stop the looting of a convenience store in downtown Salt Lake City during a protest over the death of a Black man, George Floyd, providing lessons in how to stand up for what’s right.

“[The autobiography] was my inspiration, it was moving, it changed me as a human being,” he said. “It made me a better person.”

Protest turns ugly; video goes viral

“This isn’t the answer. This isn’t how we do it,” he told protesters in Salt Lake City in June, according to KSL TV

Ahmad’s video of the looting garnered 20,000 retweets.

During the nationwide protests and violence last summer, he said everyone asked: What can we do?

His answer: read and discuss.

By reading the lessons of history, lessons from MLK and others, the stories of other people’s struggles and the mistakes of the past, we make the future brighter.

“This is how we prevent what happened last summer,” Ahmad said.


Dave & Dujanovic: Race relations in Utah from a Black coach’s perspective


Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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Live Mic: Utah coach says lessons of MLK should be taught year-round