On Martin Luther King day this year, I felt a deep need to help my children better know who this man really was. The older that my kids get, the more I notice this feeling in the pit of my stomach. It usually comes in the form of a simple question:
What do my kids know about ________, and is what they know the truth?
Unfortunately, I usually get this pit-iful feeling at the last minute when there is little time to plan. So, as we sat around the dinner table after a day off from school I began to quiz them about Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Do you know what MLK did for a living?
- Do you know why MLK is important?
- What was his wife’s name?
- Is MLK alive today? … why not?
You know, the basics. I was surprised at how much already knew. I usually am. But as we talked, and laughed, and learned, I was struck by something that nearly knocked me out of my chair:
MY KIDS HAD NO IDEA WHY MLK WAS PASSIONATE ABOUT JUSTICE AND EQUALITY!
They had not made the connection that his faith and the words of the Bible were the foundation and catalyst for his fight. He was motivated by his spiritual compass.
This should not have surprised me. On a recent trip to D.C. I made a visit to the MLK memorial on the banks of the Tide Pool. I was shocked that there was not mention of Dr. King’s status as a reverend, his role as a pastor, or his faith. One has to go a loooong way to edit any references to faith or the Bible from MLK’s words, but somebody did.
I realized that it wasn’t my job to rewrite history for my family… but it had now become my job to make sure that they knew history, especially those places in history where the world changes because of someone’s deep faith.
I learned something else about MLK. His favorite foods were fried chicken and pecan pie. You can bet that next year when we sit around the table we will be discussing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. again, but this time we will be feasting on Friend Chicken and Pecan Pie.
Who’s to argue with the King?
PRACTICE: Schedule a family meal with a focus.