talking to my kids about dr. martin luther king jr.

I have a dream saying

A few weeks ago, my 8-year-old daughter brought home a reading comprehension homework assignment about Martin Luther King Jr. As she read through the short, simplified biography of MKL Jr. and tried to answer the questions, she had a lot of questions for me like, “what is segregation?” and, “what does ‘boycott’ mean?”

I took pause, as her questions were certainly not easy to answer. I have talked about this subject with her before, on a very base level, but it seemed like it was time to dive in a little more.

“Well, remember when I told you that there was a time in this country when people with black skin didn’t have the same rights as people with white skin. They had their own bathrooms and drinking fountains, and that black people weren’t allowed to sit in certain seats on buses to enter certain places if they were for ‘white people only?’

That’s segregation.

And boycott, well, you know how we never go to Chick-fil-A. That’s because I found out a few years ago that the owners are anti-gay marriage which means they spend money towards groups that don’t want people like our friends Dawn and Diana to get married. So, I decided to never any of my money there.

That’s boycotting.”

As the conversation went on, I began reading her SRA with her. We read about Dr. King and the church, Rosa Parks and the bus, and The Dream.

She has heard about “The Dream” many times before but I had never gotten too into detail before. This night, I decided to pull it up on YouTube for her to see. Yes, on YouTube.

We watched and listened.

“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.’

With tears welling in my eyes, I stopped the video to discuss “the creed” on which our country was founded and the concept that all men are created equal.

She sat listening and soaking it all up like a sponge, eyes wide and curious.

“We all have hearts and lungs and arms and legs and brains, right? We all have parents who love us and we all love others. We all bleed blood when we get hurt and we all cry tears when we are sad. We all are born the same way and we all ultimately die. So it doesn’t make sense that some people have different rights than others, does it?”

Her face squished up and she shook her head as if to say, “no, that’s not right at all.”

I then brought up the Ferguson verdict that had been read only a week before. She had heard me talking about it with friends and it tied in all too well with this conversation about race relations.

“We’re still dealing with many of the issues that Martin Luther King Jr. helped bring to light and fight against. We are still dreaming his dream.”

I realized an hour had passed and that my daughter and I had just had the best conversation we have ever shared. I saw hope in her eyes, and a dream.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King. Thank you for paving the way for future generations who share your dream.



  1. 1
    Benjie says:

    Beautiful post Mary. Made me well up! I hope that when Lily tells her child about Dr.MLK things will be much different in our world. ♡ you!

  2. 2
    Mariana Salerno says:

    Wow this is beautiful, made me teary too. Love that you are passing on this message, so important! MLK would be proud.

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