Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but my daughter doesn’t have the day off. We home-school our kindergartner, so we were just going about our day until it was time to put the next number on the calendar. Thankfully, I had put the MLK Day square from the calendar kit up at the start of the month. Otherwise, I hate to admit it, but I might have forgotten! My daughter asked, “Mommy, who’s that dark man on the calendar?” Time stood still for me as I gathered my thoughts. Yes, she’s old enough. It’s time. So I told her.
Well, Baby Girl … That man lived back when people like us with white skin didn’t let people like him with dark skin do things with us. We didn’t let them drink out of the same drinking fountains as us. We didn’t let them go to school with us … Her eyes got super-wide. “That’s not very nice,” she said with her hands on her hips. No, It’s not nice, honey. But that man – his name is Martin Luther King, Jr. – He told us we weren’t being nice, and he talked to a lot of people about changing those mean, silly rules. She was really paying attention to my words! “So can I meet him?” She asked. I wish you could, but he’s not alive anymore. Why isn’t he alive? Did someone kill him? (How did she foresee that? She’s never heard the story!) Yes, a lot of people didn’t like him telling them that dark people should be treated the same way as white people. So someone shot him with a gun. Oh that’s so sad … Yes, honey. It is. But I’m glad he lived, because he said things people needed to hear.
Now, people. I’m not the crying, emotional type. But that conversation had me wiping away tears as I watched my daughter grasp a very important concept: That we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights … Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and that dream is coming true. Talk to your children.