I feel like I grew up with a fairly typical white-family-viewpoint of Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month. Don’t get me wrong. We believed that MLK was an amazing man. We very much appreciated his work. Thank God for MLK and for all of the other strong, intelligent, brave, creative and inspiring black men and women who changed American history….but now let’s go enjoy this freebie day off from school. I do not recall learning about black history outside of school. I do not recall snuggling up with my mom and reading books about famous black heroes. I do not recall “celebrating” MLK day.
Well, at age 35, I truly celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. for the first time. My daughters and I (my husband had to work) visited the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis on Saturday January 17th for their MLK Family Celebration. We attended a story time that featured books about diversity, inclusion, and famous black Americans. My girls participated in peace-inspired crafts such as fingerprinting a dove, designing a peace sign sun catcher, and decorating a crown. We attended a lively presentation of “King Family Kids” by St. Louis story teller Mama Lisa. With her vibrant demeanor, powerful voice, and vivid words Mama Lisa painted a picture of MLK that I had never seen or heard before (all the while keeping the children in the audience highly entertained).
There were so many people at this event. White families. Black families. Asian-American families. Latin-American families. Mixed families – so many mixed families that I could not help but notice them! Families with toddlers, families with grandparents, and a few groups of teenage friends. They were all at the Missouri History Museum honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream.
I observed all of the time and hard work that went into planning this event. So many people who still found Martin Luther King Jr. to be so important, that they wanted to honor him with a celebration. I regarded Mama Lisa and how she has dedicated her entire career to the telling of pan-African legacies.
It was then that a mixture of emotions hit me. I felt ashamed that I had never before made any gesture to demonstrate my appreciation for this historic day. I felt intrigued by the wide variety of people who already knew that this day was a day worth celebrating. I felt happy that my daughters were able to experience this celebration and know the importance of black history at an early age.
And I wondered. What if I were not a part of this mixed race family? What if I had not fallen in love with and married a black man? What if I did not have two biracial daughters? What if I were part of just another white family? Would I be here? Would I be in one of those “culturally aware” white families that were walking around the Missouri History Museum? Or would I be at home cluelessly enjoying my long weekend?
To be honest, I do not know.
But I am so grateful for these two young ladies who brought me here.
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