Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with My Children

Today, January 15, 2018, was the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Because I homeschool my children, I had already taught them years ago who this courageous man was, what all he did for Civil Rights and why we still must respect and repeat his message to the world today.

In the past, I have read to them from books or watched videos of his speeches, but today I felt led to let them watch the movie “Selma”. This was actually a difficult decision for me. Not because I didn’t want them to see and learn all that took place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March of 1965, of course, I did. My hesitation came because, up to this point in their lives, they have never heard the “N” word. Now, I know what you might be thinking, “That’s not possible, of course, they have heard that somewhere.”
My reply is a strong, honest, “NO. They have not.”

Because we homeschool, our kids have been sheltered from a lot of things the world has to offer and hearing that atrocious word is one of them. I’m sure that nowadays, there are many kids who are not homeschooled who have never heard that word, at least I hope so. But I know that kids like to repeat what they hear and teach other kids… sometimes on school playgrounds… sometimes at public parks… and yes, sometimes at church events (which is where my son learned the “F” word).

I am not so unrealistic as to think that I can protect them from everything, nor should I, that is not my goal. I am also not so delusional as to think that I could protect them from never hearing the “N” word. What I loved was the innocence they still had. Aven is 14, MaCaedyn is 12 and Samuel is 11 and they had no idea that there even was an “N” word. I have read to them about Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas and several others and we have done studies on the Civil War since they were little, but I never read that word aloud to them. Josh and I also don’t keep company with people who do. I loved their innocence so much and just wanted to hold onto it as long as I possibly could. However, the sad truth is, in order to truly and effectively teach my children about the suffering, torment, and despair of the African America people throughout our nation’s history, and the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that word and it’s degrading meaning, was, unfortunately, something they had to learn.

My husband, Josh, told me that it was better for me to put it into them with the proper teachings and proper understandings, than for them to hear it from someone else. I agreed. So, this morning, before we started school, I told them that I was going to show them a very powerful, important movie of true events that took place in March 1965. I then explained to them that they were going to hear a word that started with an “N” that was the worst word they had ever heard. Worse than any cuss word, worse than any adjective or description they could find and that it should never be spoken or even thought about a person. I explained it’s origin and it’s meaning to them carefully and that to speak this word about someone would break my heart, but it would also break the heart of the God they serve, Who created all of the beautiful people of this world and loves them so much He would die for them.

They understood.

I put the movie on and we began. As my children watched the story of Dr. King and how he bravely led the people in their cause, with wisdom, and with peace, I watched them. I loved that their eyes were filled with tears and tissues were needed. I loved that they were angered by the actions of those who were so viciously brutal to those with Dr. King and I also loved their confusion. “Why?” They asked. “Why do they hate them so much because they are black?”

Unfortunately, that is an answer I can’t really give them as I don’t understand it myself.

When the movie was over, the conversation we had together was powerful. Their hearts and minds were deeply impacted by the film and they held a much greater understanding of why we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I told them that the movie “Selma” didn’t even scratch the service of the issues that have plagued our nation for decades where race is concerned. Now, they are eager to do more to show their love for others, which thrills me. Their hearts were enlarged for more love and more compassion and I feel that the more I teach them that love and compassion for others will only grow stronger.

Samuel asked me, “Mama? Why is it that some white people think they are better than everyone else?”

My reply was, “I don’t know baby, but we are not. God created us all, loves us all and Jesus died for us all, so it doesn’t make any sense to me. But we are thankful that God created people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead us to a better place of peace and understanding.”