The King Holiday

CJ woke up and asked why she wasn’t going to preschool this morning. I told her it was because of Martin Luther King. “Do you know who that is?” I asked her. “Yes!” she said. “He’s the one who said people should recycle and stop throwing away so much garbage.”

I’ve noticed for a while that she sees when children have different skin colors but she doesn’t know any of the history. And apparently they’re not teaching it at preschool.

I told her, “A lot of white people were mean and told black people they couldn’t vote, couldn’t eat at the same restaurants, and couldn’t stay at the same hotels. Martin Luther King was one of the people who changed that.” I told her he didn’t do it alone. When I was in elementary school, it seemed like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks invented the Civil Rights Movement by themselves. A lot of people still think Rosa Parks was just a tired seamstress, and not an NAACP secretary who was playing a carefully scripted part.

CJ said she wanted to draw a picture, so we looked at some Google Images. There are a lot that look like this.

They’re not inaccurate, but they make him seem remote. He’s in black and white, wearing a coat and tie, serious, even angry, gesturing to a huge crowd. He doesn’t look like anyone you know personally, and I wondered if that made his example seem impossible to follow. Which is really not what we want anyone to think.

I searched Google Images using different keywords and found a lot of pictures that I hadn’t seen before. Pictures in color, pictures where he’s smiling. CJ drew this composite.

And then she sort of combined everything to make this picture.

MLKwhich is marvelous but still makes him look like a superhero.

I searched for pictures where he’s with friends and family and perhaps not changing the world at the particular moment. Here’s one you probably haven’t seen before.MLK poolBut this was my favorite.

He’s a young father with a baby girl, just like I was a couple of years ago.

I found this picture to make CJ think about how to live her life. But the one who’s thinking now is me.

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