Civil Rights to a Four Year-Old

Four years ago, the first television my daughter ever watched was President Obama’s first Inaugural Speech. At less than a year, it did not make a big impact except for the fact that the TV, usually a black rectangle, was suddenly filled with moving images and Daddy was laughing and crying and very excited. Fast forward to Monday’s address coming on MLK Jr. Day. I was clearly in the moment again, but this time my daughter was asking for explanations in the way only a four year-old can. Every answer, slowly crafted to be intelligible, received an instant “why?’

I showed her the “I Have a Dream” speech, we watched the inauguration and parade, but I think the most clear message she got was when I pulled out my senior high school yearbook. I had my daughter look a the photos of the kids in my class and compared it to her small school and the school across the street where she may go next year. She currently does not experience much racial diversity. If she goes next door, she will have plenty. I explained that without the hard work of Dr. King Jr. and many others I would not have had the opportunity to go to a school like the one that I did. Of course, that was not the norm everywhere when I was a kid, and it was a conscious choice made by my parents.

I sit on the edge of that same choice this coming week. My wife and I have to rank three different schools for the school lottery. I am strongly drawn to make similar choices that my parents made. The struggle continues, and it requires all of us to try to create that nation where people, “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”


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