We had such a nice time celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On our last library visit I checked out some books about MLK. I want the kids to understand who MLK was and what his message did for our country.
I got really nervous as I sat down to read one of the books. I have never discussed with the boys about segregation. I was reading to Mr. P and Busy Guy ages 6 and 3. It's not that I avoided the topic but this was the first time they have seemed old enough and the opportunity presented itself. Part of me wanted to never tell them. I know, unrealistic...but, their happy innocence is so precious. As far as they know and are concerned, skin color doesn't matter and never has.
As I began reading the story I wondered if I should paraphrase or skip some of it. Before I could decide what to do Mr. P piped up with, "Mom, Mr. Weber (the librarian) read to us today about MLK and do you know that some terrible men shot and killed him!". I love Mr. Weber! Mr. P is always coming home on library day and telling me about the wonderful books and lessons Mr. Weber has read/told them that day.
And so I read, without skipping any parts. As I came to the part of the book telling of the "white only" signs I could barely read it outloud. I glanced over at Mr. P whose face was twisted all up and looked in pain. He knew already and was shocked that such a thing ever happened. I read the whole book which detailed MLK's life. I added lots of little bits of my own and we had lots of discussion afterwards. It was hard though. I never want my children to experience racism. I do however want them to stand up for what is right....always! I want them to learn about men like MLK and women like Rosa Parks who were brave. These people made the world a better place and their legacy lives on.
Busy Guy was especially taken with the story. He kept saying, "Martin Luther King, he preached peace, he turned the world upside down!". It made a big impact on him. Busy Guy had never made any comments about the color of his skin. He knows he's from Ethiopia, he knows we are his family but so far he had never made any reference that he noticed skin color. Well, the next morning he was talking to Cam about MLK and the book we read. He said to Cam, "Daddy, I'm black". Cam smiled and replied, "yes, and I'm white and you're my son". It was so sweet as I listened from another room. Later in the day Busy Guy said to me, "mom, let's read the other books about MLK. Skin color doesn't matter cause we're all friends!".
Tonight we read about MLK again. Busy Guy was poised in bed with his new favorite book. "Mom, he turned the world upside down!". Yes, he sure did.