Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today was a great day because there was no school.  Today was a great day because it was sunny and in the 60s.  Today was a great day because we played with friends.  But today was also a great day because we took time to remember a good, brave man who helped change the heart of our country.

This morning after breakfast, I called the boys to the living room and had them sit down to have a chat.  I asked them why we didn’t have school today.  They both answered that it was because it is Martin Luther King Day.

I asked Zach to tell me one thing he knows about MLK.  “He got shot,” was his answer.  Now there’s a place to start.  Yes, he got shot.

I asked Elliot to tell us why he got shot.  Elliot did a good job of explaining that it was because MLK “didn’t like the way that . . . um. . . . what do you call it?  Um . . . what do you call people with white skin?”  Isn’t it something that we even need a word to call a person with white skin?  To call a person with black skin?  Not just a person.  But a person with a certain color skin.  He was somewhat satisfied with “white people” so he continued:  “He didn’t like the way that white people treated African Americans.  They wouldn’t let them do the same things that white people did.”

“And someone with white skin couldn’t be friends with someone with brown skin,” Zach chimed in and then began to list some of his friends who have white skin, saying if it weren’t for Martin Luther King, Jr. then maybe they wouldn’t be able to be his friends.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is an important man to our family.  King’s principles, beliefs, and dreams are fundamental to our family.  You see, our family — black and white — is a picture of what King described in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  To see Zach’s dark brown hand in mine . . . to see my boys with very different pigmentation with their shirts off, wrestling together and laughing together . . . to see our parents who lived in our country before MLK and the Civil Rights Movement embrace and love Zachary without concern for his race . . . is to see some of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamt of.

After our discussion about MLK, we gathered around a beautiful picture book of his speech and listened to a recording of the speech together — Martin Luther King’s actual voice.  The words of the speech have such power and such emotion.  He speaks such obvious truth.  We want to remember him and what he did for our country and for our family.  We want to remember the wreck our country’s heart caused before African Americans stepped in closer to the dream.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a great man.  A hero.  A voice.  A dream-giver.  And we honor him today.

“I have a dream that one day . . . little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

“With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.  This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning — ‘my country ’tis of thee; sweet land of liberty; of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride; from every mountainside, let freedom ring’ — and if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”

“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up the day when all of God’s children — black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics — will be able to join hands and to sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”


2 responses to this post.

  1. Lovely post! My husband (who is a high school history teacher) and I have been talking about the pros and cons of having no school on MLK Day. I kinda think it’s a wasted opportunity. We could have a day of special programming, assemblies, workshops… but then my husband tells me that there was a time when some states, universities, etc., refused to observe the day. So, he says, having that day off is an act of solidarity. Then again, it’s only REALLY an act of solidarity if we use the day as you did, to raise awareness & educate our kids. My kids knew why they had the day off, but I wish I’d thought of listening to a recording with them. What a great idea! Sorry for rambling…


    • Wow. Yes, interesting thought from your husband that the very act of states and schools observing MLK Day is huge! And thanks for the encouragement — it was a special time for us. 🙂


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