When I was growing up, Martin Luther King Jr Day was NOT a day off.
My parents didn’t play that.
Yes, school was out. That meant nothing. We went to parades and rallies. We went to events or programs at church. We volunteered. We watched special movies and shows that talked about MLK’s legacy and the importance of this day. It was a big deal in our Black home.
Admittedly, I’ve gotten lazy. I could blame the college days and managing little children but still, I could have made more effort in the past few years. I don’t want my children growing up and not finding purpose in this day. I don’t want them to brag about how they slept in when they could have helped out.
They need to know about Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They need to know that while the rest of the world may think of it as a 3-day weekend, their little butts will be able to tell me why MLK was so important. They’ll write reports on it. We’ll act out plays. We’ll march in parades, listen to his speeches and they’ll have memories etched in stone that I hope they pass down to their children and their children’s children.
This year I read to EB’s class of 3-year olds and 4-year olds. The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore was read to them with my most excitable voice. EB kept waving to me and I kept giving her that “mama eye” so that she could focus on the book with her friends.
Her friends listened. A few feet away, EB’s teacher stopped doing what she was doing to tune into the book. I love reading kids books.
I love reading kids books.
I mean, don’t get it twisted. I’m not exactly a LOVER of kids (except my own). Kids, in general, are pretty good at annoying me and stomping on what few nerves I have left. But there’s something special about the way kids look at you when they’re interested. There’s something special about imagining their little brains soaking up every word you’re saying.
“Martin Luther King is Black.” a kid says.
“Yes, like me!” EB responds.
A few seconds of silence.
“I want a cupcake.”
And with just 4 words, that kid becomes my spirit animal because…why have discussions about skin color when you can lust after a cupcake?
I’m doing my part in helping cultivate conversations. I want them to notice their differences. I want them to find that these differences don’t matter. I want them to know that Martin Luther King Jr. matters today and will matter every single year. Even if their parents don’t think much of this day (and I’m not saying they don’t…nor am I judging them if they don’t talk about MLK Day in their homes…okay, I’m judging a little), I need our future generation to know that…well, they need to know.
They gon learn today.
Do whatever it takes. Eat a cupcake in his honor. Go read a book. Read your kids (grandkids, godkids, nieces and nephews…just find a kid!) a book. Ask questions. Be open-minded. Be helpful and be noticing that you CAN make a difference. Yes, I know that sounds cheesy but you can.
Now excuse me while I combat the cupcake cravings with a green drink.