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Martin Luther King Jr. — As Explained To My 5-Year Old Child

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The other night, my 5-year-old daughter, Willow, and I were sitting on the bed, lounging around because it was a Saturday evening. I asked her if she wanted me to read her a story and she asked me to pick out the books. I chose to read her a book I have never read to her (and never even read myself). It was a book given to me at Willow’s baby shower SIX years ago; it is a book written by our outgoing president, Barack Obama.

The book is called “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters.” The book is filled with stories about heroes and sheroes who have helped make America a much better place. There are stories about legends such as Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, Che Guevara, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

When we got to the story about MLK, I asked Willow if she knew who he was and she said no. I had to come up with a way to explain this civil rights activist to a 5-year old. Oy. I told her that he spoke to many people all across the country to tell them that it is OK for brown people and black people and white people–all people–to live together happily and to be friends. I told her that a long (long, long, long) time ago, people didn’t like black people to be their neighbors and to be their friends.

It really hurt my heart that I had to explain such an ugly piece of our country’s history to my sweet, innocent and bright-eyed little girl.

Wrapping up my conversation with Willow about Martin Luther King Jr. I whipped out my smart phone and pulled up the YouTube app and showed her a video of the famous “I Have A Dream” speech. I told her that he spoke to thousands of people and they cheered him. She didn’t understand a word of what he was saying, so I told her it was a great speech to tell people it’s OK to be happy, no matter what color your skin happens to be!


There are a few events happening around Yakima on MLK Day this Monday (Jan. 16):

MLK Day Weekend — The OIC is putting on a youth basketball tournament inside the gym on Saturday (Jan. 14) and Sunday (Jan. 15). Click here to see if there is still time for you to register!

MLK Day March/Peace Walk — starts at 11:30 in the morning at South Fifth Avenue and MLK Jr. Boulevard.

MLK Day Community Speeches — arrive at the Yakima Convention Center (10 N. Eighth St.) after the Peace Walk to hear various community leaders and local students give speeches and performances at 1 p.m.

MLK Day Soup Kitchen — begins at 2:30 p.m. at Henry Beauchamp Community Center (12 S. Seventh St)., formerly known as the Southeast Community Center.

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