50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave this incredible speech and I am still so inspired by his boldness, leadership, and vision to change the world. These are the things that I want to instill my kids with. These are the examples I want Kayla to follow. These are our heroes.
In kindergarten, Kayla learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and what the environment was like at that time. Her wonderful teacher, Miss P, explained that people with different color skin were subject to certain restrictions. I have to admit that I got a little nervous about this because I was worried she would interpret it in a way that would make her feel ‘different’.
I got a call from her teacher later that day with a concern. She saw Kayla comparing her skin color to other kids in the room. She did it several times even when the teacher wasn’t talking about this particular subject. (Miss P, thank you so much for bringing this to my attention.)
So, I took this opportunity to talk to Kayla about her ethnicity. I asked her, do you know what it means to be Korean? She said, “I’m half black and half white.” That was very interesting to me. I showed her what it meant to be Korean by showing her where that country was on the map. I told her that we all have different color skin, but we are all equal and special in our own way. She should be proud that she has different cultures to learn from and celebrate. (I remember teaching her about Korean culture before, but it’s apparent that her comprehension of this is so different now that she learned about MLK.)
We then talked about her other friends and discussed their ethnicities. I showed her India, China, Africa, and England. It was helpful that she was able to put a real face to the ethnicities and cultures we discussed.
Kids are completely fascinating to me because their minds are so pure and ‘literal’ at times. We were walking by a store that had “White Sale Only”. She asked, “Only white people are allowed in this store, right?” I explained it was a sale of the white items in the store. Her mind is processing everything and every new thing she learns is applied to her world perception. Reminds me how precious these years are in developing our children’s world view.
Hope you are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s life and impact today. I’ll end with an excerpt from his speech:
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. 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.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.