Schools are closed and the office is closed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m home with my kids, and when I woke up with them this morning, the first thing I did was ask them “Do you know why you are home from school today?” Of course they gave the right answer. They’ve been learning as much as a 3, 6 and 12 year old can over the last week about Martin Luther King and his legacy at school. I wanted to start the day with a lesson on the truly backbreaking and often dehumanizing work Dr. King and all who struggled and fought for Civil Rights in this country endured. I began by telling them a little bit about how not so long ago, people were separated in this country because of the color of their skin; that they could only live in certain places, go to certain schools, eat at certain restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised to see them all really listening. It was quite a moment for me.
I talked to them about standing up for what is right, about Dr. King’s stance on non-violence, and about the ugly reality of racism, hatred and segregation. How people faced dogs, fire hoses, being spit on, beaten, battered, all because they believed that everyone, no matter what the color of their skin, deserved to be treated equally. As I was speaking about the bravery of the people who had endured so much, I could feel my throat tightening, my chest hurting…and I began to cry. I struggled through, talking more about Dr. King’s legacy and how it lives on today through us, and about how we should always feel gratitude to those people who fought and died for what is, by it’s very essence, truth. We are different, that is true. But we are all human and no one, no matter how many letters they have behind their name has ever been able to define race in a way that denies that fact.
When the lesson was over, I began to reflect. Why was I crying? I cried because I want to be that brave. I want to be that strong…to sit in the face of hatred and anger and know that I am on the side of justice. I am humbled at the bravery of all those men and women. I am humbled by their grit, their honor, and their knowledge deep in their hearts and minds that they were struggling for something bigger than themselves…
I am humbled by the knowledge that they weren’t afraid to die.
I will end this with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King. It’s a reminder to me to always speak. I do, for the most part. It’s time to make my voice louder. Time to do more. Remember: