Civil Rights: The rights of citizens to political, social freedom and equality.
Holidays, like today, are meant for more than just getting a day off. They serve as a reminder of the indiscretions of our past and those that have fought for justice, peace and equality. It’s also a great time to talk about history with your children. Recalling past events, especially those where we have made mistakes and have persecuted or have been persecuted, is especially important in these times. It has become quite clear recently how powerful the internet has become for those who wish to erase and re-fabricate the past and create a more pleasant view of themselves all together. Most of us know that remembering past mistakes is important so that we do not repeat them.
My son Georgie is old enough now that we can have some interesting discussions about history, important historical icons, the importance of remembering these stories, people and how they relate to today.
I brought up Martin Luther King Jr. last night and asked him what he knew about him. I shouldn’t have been surprised that he had a descent amount of knowledge on the subject. In his school they make it a point of teaching the subject of MLK and the civil rights movement in class every year.
He says to me enthusiastically “I know about Martin Luther King’s back story!” So I ask him to tell me all he knows and I learned something.
He told me a story from Dr. King’s childhood that I later found on line in more detail that I will share with you:
When Martin Luther King., Jr. was little, his father took him downtown to buy shoes. It was the 1930s, and the Kings lived in Atlanta, Georgia. The shoe store was empty. Martin and his father, Daddy King, sat in front. A young white clerk came up.
“I’ll be happy to wait on you if you’ll just move to those seats in the rear,” he said. His words were polite, but he was asking them to move because of their skin color.
“There’s nothing wrong with these seats,” Daddy King answered. “We’re quite comfortable here.”
“Sorry,” said the clerk, “but you’ll have to move.”
Daddy King scowled. “We’ll either buy shoes sitting here or we won’t buy any shoes at all.” He stood up, took Martin’s hand, and marched him out of the store. As they walked down the street, Daddy King grumbled, “I don’t care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it.”
Georgie then told me how his father played an important role in inspiring his civil rights activism.
Having conversations like these are not only important for teaching our children about history but also a great way to bond with them. I went into this conversation expecting to teach him a thing or two about MLK and civil rights etc… and in turn he taught me something. Our children are wonderful teachers all we have to do is listen.
Has your child taught you something recently you can share with us?
If you’re looking for some good literature on MLK here are a few books I recommend:
Martin Luther King Jr., Dreaming of Equality by Ann S. Manheimer
As Good as Anybody, by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Raul Colón (Age 5-9)
Who was Martin Luther King Jr.? by Bonnie Bader (children 8-12)