Stand Up: A Lesson With My Daughter On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

“What would you do,” I asked my daughter, “if you walked into a restaurant full of little boys and little girls with green and brown and hazel eyes, and you sat down and asked for something to eat, but the restaurant owner told you that you couldn’t eat in his restaurant because your eyes were blue? How would that make you feel?”

Let’s back up a minute. In all fairness, my eight-year-old daughter is the one who started this conversation. I’m not sure I have the foresight in my daily activities to plan a historical and cultural lesson that just happens to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest men in the last century.

“Have you ever heard of Martin Luther King?” she asked me earlier tonight.

“I sure have, sweetheart,” I said.

(ignoring me) “Well, dad,” she continued, “Martin Luther King was a very important man. He won the Nobel Peace Prize because he got the blacks and the whites to stop living separately and to stop being so mean to each other.”

“Okay,” I replied. “I guess that’s one way of putting it.”

“Dad, what’s a Nobel Peace Prize?” she asked, so I reminded her about Norman Borlaug and how he developed dwarf wheat, a plant that saved 1 billion lives (she had read about Borlaug and talked about him in class the week before). Then we talked about Gandhi and Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the work those three men did, how they all just wanted people to be treated the same, even if they were different. I told her that the Nobel Peace Prize was something that was given only to men and women, and sometimes even groups of people, that do wonderful and extraordinary things to make the world a better and safer place to live.

(after a thoughtful pause) “Dad, am I white?”

“Well, yeah, sweetheart. I suppose that, if you were to ask people back when Dr. King was still alive, they would have called you “white.”

A look of slight relief came across her face. “So I wouldn’t have to drink from a different water fountain that said, ‘Colored only’ or go to a different school than my friends?”

“No, you wouldn’t have to do any of those things, but all of your friends at school who have darker skin would have to leave your school and go to a different school where everyone there had dark skin like them.” I could tell by the lack of response to this statement that this wasn’t really sinking in.

So I asked my daughter, “What would you do if you walked into a restaurant full of little boys and little girls with green and brown and hazel eyes, and you sat down and asked for something to eat, but the restaurant owner told you that you couldn’t eat in his restaurant because your eyes were blue? How would that make you feel?”

“That wouldn’t make me feel very nice,” she replied. “I think that would make me very sad.”

“Well, sweetie,” I said,” that’s the way it felt for people with dark skin who lived in the United States of America when Martin Luther King was alive. There were separate schools and buses and restaurants and water fountains and even separate churches. And this was all because some of the people in our country had darker skin than the rest.”

“But Martin Luther King stood up to them, didn’t he, daddy?”

“Mmm-hmm,” I agreed, as I pulled her onto the recliner with me and set her on my lap.

“But then a man shot him,” she said, looking troubled and with her voice starting to break. “Why did they shoot him just like they did Abraham Lincoln? They shot President Abraham Lincoln before he could finish! And then Martin Luther King had to finish it for him! And then they shot Martin Luther King!” she said, sinking her head into the spot where my arm and chest meet. “Why did that man shoot Martin Luther King?”

I thought for a moment about how to explain something like this to an eight-year-old. “Dr. King said some things that made a lot of people angry. Some of them got so angry that they wanted to hurt him, and one man did,” I said to my daughter as she stared toward the floor. “But you know what? It was too late. The man that shot Martin Luther King Jr. may have killed him, but he couldn’t do anything to stop all the good work that Dr. King did.”

An idea suddenly struck me. “Would you like to see a video of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving a very important speech?”

“Is it the ‘I Have a Dream Speech?'” she asked, her eyes lighting up. I nodded yes. “Yeah!” She said, clapping her hands together. “We read about that in class!”

I quickly turned the Blu-ray player to the YouTube channel and found a slightly shorter version of  the speech (it was already past her bedtime). We cuddled together and listened to the speech. She didn’t squirm, she didn’t ask questions, and she didn’t take her eyes off the video. At the end, she asked me if that was really Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the video, if that was really his voice. I told her it was, and then I asked her how she felt and what she thought while she was watching the video.

“It made me feel like freedom should ring for every person in the whole world,” she said, “even the animals so they won’t get eaten.” (I’ll have to remind her of this the next time she’s eating a plate full of bacon at breakfast.)

A few minutes later, after I tucked her into bed and sang her two favorite bedtime songs (“You Are My Sunshine” and “Twinkle, Twinkle”), she asked me, “Daddy, if I win the Nobel Peace Prize does that mean somebody will shoot me? Because I’d like to be a scientist and invent things that make people’s lives a lot better. And I want to make sure we always have the laws that say you can’t separate black people and white people from each other.”

“No, sweetheart,” I said, running my fingers through the hair on the top of her head. “Just because you win the Nobel Peace Prize, it doesn’t mean that someone will want to shoot you. But you don’t have to win a prize to be able to do good things for people. Gandhi and Mandela and Borlaug and Martin Luther King, they weren’t trying to win a prize or an award. They were just trying to do what was right.”

“Okay, daddy,” she said with a long sigh. “That’s good, because I wanna stand up.”

And with that, I kissed her and left her to her dreams.

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154 thoughts on “Stand Up: A Lesson With My Daughter On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. I felt like I was sitting on the recliner with you and your smart daughter. Every dad should be able to have a conversation like this with his son/daughter.
    The world should be ruled by children :)

  2. Wishing her a bright future.Very inspiring post.jalal

  3. You can learn so much from an innocent child! You have a kind, smart little girl on your hands.

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  5. Sounds like she’s a smart, sweet little girl with a smart, sweet daddy! Reading your post prompted me to ask my 9-year old son if his class had been talking about Dr. King in school.
    “Yes,” he said.
    “What have you been learning about him?” I asked.
    “That he had a dream.”
    “What was his dream?”
    “For world peace,” he answered.
    I guess that sums it up pretty well. Great post!

  6. I was touched not just by the wisdom imparted by you both, but also by the important relationship you have with your daughter. Treasure that as little girls with dedicated daddies grow up to be amazing women.

  7. Thanks for sharing! I’m happy to know that 8 year old’s are being taught these important things, and that your daughter has the aptitude to translate that information into real-world relevancy; and as others have mentioned, that you are attentive and supportive of the many inquisitions of a obviously curious and smart child!

  8. **What a beautiful conversation; especially between a child and her Daddy. Loved reading this! What a timely dialogue to have had..your little girl is SO very bright. As I’m sure you already know..Quite often we say fresh from the mouths of babes comes the purest things from the HEART. I wish , oh I wish!, more grown-ups hadn’t lost that purity. I’m encouraged that there are indeed parents out there teaching their children what is right from wrong..Teaching them period! Your style of writing had me engaged from word one…be back time N time again to read you. Thank you sincerely for sharing this…Stay UPlifted N blessed

  9. Hi there, Melissa. Thank you for sharing a bit of your conversation. It makes my heart glad to think of all the children out there still learning from Dr. King. Glad you enjoyed reading. Best. Jason

  10. What a sweet pea! And what a good example of wonderful parenting. Thanks for sharing such a lovely story. Hearing about Martin Luther King Jr. through the voice of a child helps me remember what a truly remarkable man he was, and what an ugly environment he led away from.

    PS Congratulations on being pressed!

  11. You know, I like to complain about how we’re ruled by technology now, and everyone’s addicted. But how cool that you could just pop on to UTube and find that speech, and then could blog to the entire world about that special time between you and your daughter! Indeed, it is a whole new world — in some ways — than it was in Dr. King’s day. Now you can find your daughter a book about Dorothy Day and Rachel Carson! Get her some woman role models. She has much to accomplish, clearly. Congrats on the FP! Well deserved.

  12. This was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. My dad is ‘black’ and my mom is ‘white’ and I remember when I was growing up being very confused. I would always ask (when that time of year came along) “Well my mom looks light and my dad looks black, So where would I have gone?” I didn’t really know what any of this was until I went to school and learned about it, because I just figured everyone was like me. Very touching and it shows a very important message!

  13. I truly truly loved reading this heart warming post. Your daughter is amazing, just made me smile throughout the entire conversation. I thought your technique on how to simplify everything for her was genius. Favorite explanation:.. “What would you do,” I asked my daughter, “if you walked into a restaurant full of little boys and little girls with green and brown and hazel eyes, and you sat down and asked for something to eat, but the restaurant owner told you that you couldn’t eat in his restaurant because your eyes were blue? How would that make you feel?”

  14. Beautiful post Mr. Jason Leslie Rogers . This is the gift we can give to our children.
    By the way I would like to share a bit of my conversation with my grown up son last night. When I expressed my happiness that he has inherited the good qualities and culture from his parents, he proclaimed that he was not an “orthodox” like me. ( By the way I am a believer and not orthodox, he mixes up both ). And just before this conversation, he had gone out to give some money to a poor artist, whom he had seen drawing a paint of God by the roadside with a chalk.
    So I replied it is fine if he is an atheist, I will be a proud mother as long as he believes in humanity and lends a helping hand to a fellow human being.
    We want our future generation to live in a world full of peace, love and prosperity.

  15. This reminds me of how my mom used Martin Luther King Day as an opportunity to teach us about Dr. King, his accomplishments, and Civil Rights in general. History books taught us about the oppressive atmosphere in the South, but Mom told us that some northern towns wouldn’t allow African Americans to own property within city limits until well after WWII. Then there was the debate over equal education, which was (and is) still going on in my hometown. In short, my parents’ perspectives were invaluable when it came to understanding Civil Rights, and I’m grateful they took the time to share them with me.

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  17. Normally, i don’t comment on freshly pressed, the traffic is so much but I was compelled to do so by the flow of this conversation that depicted the curious questioning of a young one; the patience and creativity of a dad trying to tailor a story for his offspring in a manner that it does not lose its truthfulness nor dilute the seriousness of its content.
    Watching the video with her was great.
    Thanks for sharing, it should inspire parents faced with a ‘grown-up’ subject and a questioning child, you truly deserved to be freshly pressed!

  18. Awesome, that’s so cute. And I bet your daughter will remember this her whole life and grow up to do great things. Maybe she’ll even win that prize; anything’s possible.

  19. Very touching post. Kids are very curious about these things and I think you explained it very well. Sign if a great father: bring able to explain complex subjects so an 8 year old can understand.

  20. Thanks so much for this! Truly brilliant. I have a little sister who is 7 years old, and it’s so nice to see such innocent naivety in a child. I think sometimes children grow up too quickly these days, so it’s heart-warming to read a post about the sheer innocence of your daughter. Very nicely written.

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  22. Very heart-warming and inspiring! Your little girl has an righteous mind and a huge heart for her generation. Remind your little girl to never stop pursuing her dreams and she too will make a huge difference in the world!

  23. As an educator, I really appreciate your daughter’s curiosity. Many kids today don’t care for history, and don’t see the relevance because they take things for granted. It isn’t necessarily their fault; this generation doesn’t experience explicit racism as often. Her teachers have taught her well, and that includes you!

  24. Inspiring story: kids are born inquisitors and scientists. Most kids have parents that will slowly kill that urge for knowledge by acting like grown ups. Other kids are just lucky!

  25. I wonder why people struggle so much with how to explain things to children. Explain it to them as they were an adult. Too often the way we teach children about topics of racism end up being racist in and of themselves. Omitting certain truths is in fact telling a lie. I know that you were probably referencing the Brown Eye Blue Eye experiments with your example, but back then it wasn’t simply getting kicked out of a restaurant.

    It was getting beaten, lynched, raped, shot, eaten alive by police dogs, etc. If you can tell your daughter that MLK got shot, why can’t you tell her that Black people were shot regularly back then for being Black? Hell, why did you set it up as if it was in the past, as IF this doesn’t happen today all the time?

    Too often I have White parents come to me with the same struggling conversation, and end up through their methods of “educating” end up raising kids that ultimately don’t actually get how disgusting American history actually is. I can only pray that the teachers that will teach my kids have the decency to tell them the truth and not White wash the versions to make it look as simple as two people being mean to each other. Because Black people (no, we’re not called “the blacks”) were not mean to White people. If asking to be considered human is “mean” then I’m the biggest bully on the planet. That should have been nipped in the butt immediately.

    I find this all too haunting. Hopefully your daughter learns to ask questions of POC instead of relying on White people to educate her on racism.

  26. Hi, Melanie. I understand your trepidation about living in a world that is increasingly dominated by technology (I just published a post about this topic entitled “The Internet Changes Everything… and Nothing”). It is nice sometimes, though, isn’t it? Take care.

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  28. Nice post… my 5 year old daughter and I have been discussing Dr. King this week. She couldn’t get pass the fact that Dr. King was such a good leader and someone would shoot him. She also wanted to know if I was there and heard Dr. King’s speech. I told her that I wasn’t born at the time of his speech but I had seen it on TV … to shorten the story, I will be showing her the YouTube clip. :)

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  30. Hello, Rasheeda. First of all, thanks for the comment. I like when people disagree with me during conversation (as long as it stays civil).

    I wrote this post so a few of my friends and family members could have a glimpse into this conversation that, after it happened, I found myself in awe of. The people who make up this target audience have met and interacted with my daughter, but I realize you and most of the other readers of this blog post have not. So, allow me to explain a few things about Lillian, my little girl.

    Lillian is an unusually innocent child, to the point of naivety. For instance, she has never witnessed one human do realistic violence against another human. This includes live video footage, movies and TV, video games, or in person. It has only been a few months ago that she was introduced to the concept that there are/have been people out there purposefully hurting other people. My wife and I realize that there are limitations to this approach. When one has yet to be preyed upon, or at least witnessed someone else fall victim, it is difficult to understand the concept of “predator.” It will be our responsibility to slowly bring the conversation from the abstract to the concrete, but at the pace we feel is best for the overall welfare of our daughter. We will not, however, be throwing her into the deep end before we feel she can swim.

    Allow me to bring up a beef, if you will. Perhaps a new blog post would better suit this interruption, but here goes anyway. In general, I find that the majority of the conversations I read or overhear on the subject of justice are overloaded with examples of injustice. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s important for the injustices of the world to be set right, however, undoing or even preventing wrong -doing is not the same as doing right to begin with. You cannot effectively teach justice by way of negative examples. It is not enough to say, “Do not go in this direction.” Your first instructions should be, “This is the direction in which you should go.” Purity and justice are not lines one can cross; they are directions you pursue. A more concrete example would be teaching “don’t steal” versus the importance of my daughter learning to respect the personal property of others.

    The civil rights movement in the US as well as other nations was (and still is, I recognize) full of people getting beaten, lynched, raped, shot, and eaten alive by dogs. I am also aware of how disgusting much of American history is. I live only a few miles from the border of the Cherokee National Forest. I have walked the trails the people of the first nations walked. I have studied how our former president and tyrant, Andrew Jackson, committed genocide and treason against the Cherokee nation. I also grew up in the American south, amongst racists of more than one color. I have been both the perpetrator and the victim, and I sometimes still feel the shame.

    I want you, and whoever else might read this, to understand that this was not a conversation about the evils of racism, but about the heroism of Dr. King, and a very basic one at that. It was meant to be another small introduction to justice, not a crash course on injustice. I will not thrust her into the cold so she can learn the importance of dressing warm. I will not show cruelty to her so she can understand the importance of kindness. Not yet, anyway.

    Rasheeda, I do not struggle with how to explain things to my little girl. I, in fact, take immeasurable joy in the questions she has and our too-rapidly-maturing conversations. But my daughter is not an adult, and I will not treat her as one. She is my little girl, I am her daddy, and I will protect her.

    All the best,


  31. While I agree that one’s child (and their level of maturity) is significant in how we teach them, I do have to disagree with the constant talk about the heroism of MLK and you still not realizing what racism actually entails. Please note that I don’t mean any of this to be offensive, but I want you to look at this from another perspective from a person of color.

    Your daughter is curious, yes. And at least you’re not doing what most White parents do – ignore the discussion completely and inevitably raise children with the “color blind mentality” which in itself is problematic and racist. But to POC (people of color) who have no choice but to explain to their kids the consequences of their skin in a racist society, I’m sure you can see how choosing to keep the lessons for your own child as simplistic as possible is only serving to harm her in the end. I’m not rushing you into telling her about the realities of the world (after all she’s only 8) but please note that children understand the concept of racism by age 3.

    Part of your reply also disturbed me. You say you’ve seen “racists of all colors” and have experienced racism yourself. There is no such thing as “racists of all colors.” I’m sure you’re feeling defensive after reading that. You may have seen people who are prejudiced against you. You may have been discriminated against. But you do not experience an entire society treating you as inhuman as possible and being systematically pinned against you. You do not experience racism.

    You saying this disturbs me because you’re praising MLK and you still don’t understand what he stood for. If he was alive and you told him today that you’re on his side because you’ve experienced racism, he would yell your head off. I hope you don’t actually think that MLK was a peaceful protester do you? That’s actually not the case. If you said that to him he’d be extremely angry, I guarantee it.

    Because when we POC hear that often times we become angry. Because there is nothing in your life that you have nor will experience that will compare to the lives of POC. As a straight, cis, White male, you are the definition of privilege in this country.

    I hope in this reply you aren’t misunderstanding that I’m trying to teach you how to raise your child, not at all. Especially when I don’t even know your child personally. But I’m also thinking about my children.

    I hate the fact that I’m living a life surrounded by people who don’t get racism. It’s a major part of my life. Hell, it’s the reason why Black people tend to not outlive any other minority group in this country. And I have a fear of bringing children into the world because of that ignorance I want to protect them from. The reality of it is that in order to nip racism in the butt we have to start educating our children. Yes, you can say it concerns me that I’m seeing more of the colorblind mentality being fed to White children because these are the children that will grow up with my children.

    I have several resources on my page on the topic of racism, but I want to link to you one in particular.

    I feel it’s dangerous to have some of the mentalities you seem to have (basing this off your blog post and your comments). You may or may not take offense to this. But hopefully you encourage people discussing differing opinions other than yours like you’ve said and that it wasn’t just something to say.

  32. Oh and I meant to respond to your last part too. It’s insulting to insinuate that a White child needs protection from the topic of racism. I hope that’s not what you meant. Because that’s an immense privilege that no one who isn’t White has.

  33. Congratulations. Cheers to a wonderful post. Children of all colors say it like it is, no doubt, even things we would prefer not to hear at times, or don’t take the time to truly hear. Honesty at its best and most powerful! We have a LOT to learn. They can teach us far more than we them. We need to listen.

  34. Jason, I enjoyed reading your post as well as your about…I like sweet iced tea (extra ice please). Having grown up in a bubble of protection, I understand all to well being naive and innocent. I do not have the answers, but believe with certainty that those who have experienced racism see the world differently than those who have not and those who have and choose to see the world differently….will.
    I am of a darker completion and I choose to believe their are good, bad and others in the world, however I can only do me.

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  36. Rasheeda, call me crazy, but you sound a little racist yourself. My father is African and Native American and my mother is White, southern European to be more specific. What exactly about his mentality is so off? I don’t understand that. And you say he doesn’t experience racism. Perhaps he does. Being multiracial has shown me that everyone is racist, even against white people. You don’t think that when someone says “White Trash” that they aren’t talking about skin color? If you don’t think so, then you are mistaken. I’ve seen Black people beat White people simply for being white. And do you think that’s okay? And you experience racism? I’m sure you do, as do I, but unless you have been whipped out on a post and forced to pick cotton at the crack of dawn, your suffering is mild in comparison to those of our ancestors. My heritage also includes Native American, and I notice you didn’t really mention them at all, or did you perhaps forget about Washita or the Trail of Tears? Perhaps you weren’t taught that as child, but I don’t know for certain. But you seemed to ignore that when he responded with it. So perhaps that pain and suffering does not equal yours because Native Americans aren’t technically what you define as a POC. I think he did a perfectly fine job of explaining this man to his child. He may not have been offended by your post, but I was slightly offended by it. Did you know that Black on Black crime is rising drastically in the major cities in the United States? DRASTICALLY. Or do you blame that on White people? It sounds to me like you seem rather bitter. I feel sorry because unless you can move forward, you’ll always be very bitter. It also sounds like you need to not be racist, because you most certainly sound VERY racist. I’m not saying don’t act like racism doesn’t exist, but portraying every single aspect of your life like a giant race war just makes people angry and makes you look ignorant. You claiming other people, specifically white people are so “privileged” just makes you sound ignorant because you don’t know anything about this man except for the fact that he is white…..and that is certainly not enough for you to judge him on.I hope when you do have kids that you do not teach them to be so judgmental of white people. I also hope that you don’t teach them to be so angry with the world. I hope they realize that whatever troubles they may have aren’t nearly as terrible as those of slaves or the Native American people or even Jews in Nazi Germany, who, by the way, were White! And put into concentration camps!

    Hopefully this doesn’t offend you and you just see my “differing opinion.”
    Oh and feel free to check out my Blogs.

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  38. There’s also the thing when a person belonging to a community which has been subjugated by the other, starts to treat a person belonging to the other community in a different way, just because his ancestors had been cruel to his, in the long past. (Racism by PoC)
    This happens in almost every society. In India, the the abolishment of the caste system by the constitution has had this effect – where people from low castes tend to now show conspicuous will and power, while giving the “downtrodden legacy of the past” excuse.

    I am not against affirmative action. But all of us need to forget the past and forgive and love one another.

    The lady in the comments above seems to be very aggressive in her tone and perhaps would be pacified had the blogger literally shown his daughter the various acts of atrocities that happened, unfortunately.

    Ever wondered why Morgan Freeman doesn’t celebrate the Black History Month?

    Peace and kindness in the hearts of all.

  39. I am a contributor to a blog with three other women ( and I am raising a biracial child as a single mother. I can relate to this conversation in many ways. These conversations take courage. Good job, Mom.

  40. Jason… great post! It reminded me of a similar (but different subject) with my own young daughter that I posted about a few years ago regarding her desire for a breast reduction.  The things kids bring up! In any case, I applaud your use of quality time with your child.
    Regarding your subject, the Rev. King… last April I posted on my site my own recollections of having grown up in the “outskirts” of the civil rights movement. You might find a little value in my perspective.

    In fact, civil rights is all a matter of perspective, depending on your vantage point. Racheed’s comments reflect a particular perspective based on her own experiences… which may or may not be a mainstream perspective. I know for sure my thoughts on it are not mainstream. I recall when my oldest son was in grammar school.. he was about ten at the time (about 1989); 6th grade maybe. He walked in the door one day.. his eyes were all watery from subtle crying and he was very noticeably disturbed.
    “Steve.. what’s wrong, Pal?”, I asked. He was struggling to keep his wits. Now.. by this time in his life my oldest was demonstrating interests in the sciences, computers, and all things nerdy (like his old man) and he questioned everything.. all the time; typically demonstrating a maturity level beyond his years. So for him to be upset like this was a real concern.

    “We studied racial discrimination today in school, dad.” In my head I was thinking with caution.. “uhh.. hookay.”
    “Ok… so what did you study?”
    “Well, the teacher split the class in half and assigned one side of the room to “A” kids and the other side of the room to “B” kids.”, he explained. At this point I am thinking.. ok.. sounds sort of ok so far.
    He went on, “Then for the whole day the “B” kids could only go to certain places and into certain rooms that were marked. There was a special bathroom for “B” girls and “B” boys too. In the lunchroom the “B” kids could only sit in a certain area.”
    Well, by this time I am getting a feeling that some teacher got a tad carried away (the whole day??)… but, ok… I was still listening.
    “Ok, son.. so what was wrong with that?”, I probed.
    In between his sniffles he said, “Well, we couldn’t be with our friends all day and it was unfair that we had to be treated this way for the whole day.”
    So I did what I could to “de-program” his emotions.. while at the same time trying to draw some relationships between his experience for one day and what real life discrimination was all about. A tough, but effective learning experience to be sure he has not forgotten to this day in his studies for a doctorate in astro-physics.
    But.. at the next teacher conference (I was fairly active in my local school district in those days) I mentioned to the teacher that while I applaud her thinking outside the educational box in trying the exercise, that I felt the exercise should have been announced to the parents prior to the class in order for parents to be allowed the opportunity to follow up with their kids at home after class. I also “suggested” that in the future the exercise be limited to a couple hours or so during the school day rather than the entire day.

    Great post… and it’s very interesting to note there are still very diverse opinions out there.

  41. Ali, as someone with light skinned privilege you clearly don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t read anything past your first sentence, because it started off ridiculous.

    You clearly don’t get it and I am way too exhausted to explain anything to people like you. That’s what the resources page on my blog is for.

  42. Mind Shag, you’re clearly assuming I’m being aggressive. Which happens a lot to WOC, especially Black women. Nothing about any of it was aggressive, just because it’s something you didn’t want to hear. It’s not about satisfying me in raising his kid (that’s stupid) it’s about realizing when you’re not even qualified to have the conversation about racism.

    Which none of you that seem to mention me even seem to be qualified. I’m done here. I’m over dealing with the ignorant. (I’m sure you’ll see that as aggressive too).

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  44. Hi, Doug.

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I also enjoyed reading your story on MLK on your site. I especially related to your trips to the southern US. I was born and raised in the deep south, and although I came into the world a decade after the Civil Rights Act became law, you wouldn’t have been able to tell it had been ten years already. There was a barbershop in one of the towns we lived in that still had a “whites only” policy, and was known for “enforcing” this policy after hours in cloaks and hoods. Instead of being an outrage to the leadership of the community, it was considered something to laugh about, or even be proud of. Thanks again, and glad you enjoyed the read.


  45. I have had my grade Seven students designed the January Bulletin Board in honor to King. We have used his speech I Have a Dream, and i let them write on papers their dreams, and posted them onto the board.

  46. Yeah. You are racist. I’m obviously not black enough for your standards, which just proves you are racist. Congratulations on being part of the problem. I suppose Barack Obama too is not Black enough for you. I agree with the above post about moving forward. Jason, you did a fine job, and as someone who is biracial I respect the way you taught your daughter and I will say nothing more than that. You’re a fine parent, which is more than I can say about some people in America. The fact that you even teach her anything proves you are an awesome parent.

  47. Black enough for what? Are you upset that you’re being told that you have privileges that darker skinned women do not have? And explain to me how I’m stopping White people from advancing again?

    Oh right, you just like to throw the word “racist” in the direction of anyone who has a different perception about race than a White person. Which guess what – every person of color that identifies as non-White will have a different perception of race. I think that’s obvious.

    You can call me racist all you want, but you’ll just look stupid in the process since you clearly don’t even know how to apply that word to social institutions in America.

  48. Jason, You have certainly moved me by sharing this intimate glimpse of you with your daughter. My thoughts are that she will make a difference and that you will have given her the tools to do it.

  49. Pingback: Stand Up: A Lesson With My Daughter On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. « The Experience Evolves

  50. Beautiful. I love this post. About a week or two back I wrote about Apartheid on my blog and described how tough it was for the blacks… When I read your post, I could think of stuff I read during school and after that and how bad I felt about the discrimination that prevailed and still does exist in certain parts of the world…This post made me feel plain good and in the end brought a smile on my face. Thanks for sharing :)

  51. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I remeber as a child the Berlin wall coming down and my dad explaining to me the history behind that. Situations like this are one of the many things I look forward to as being a dad

  52. Thank you for sharing your story…I’m grateful. When I was a child, I didn’t ask questions and because of this I’m having to let go of my fears behind asking and being asked a question. This is part of the child in me that resides in my adult body. All your daughters questions touched me.
    Martin Luther King Jr. is one of our greatest spiritual teachers. About a year ago I was moved to paint a portrait of Martin Luther King and I uncovered one of the reasons was to learn more about him and that his speech was about freedom for all.

  53. Nicely written. In my blog post today, I reflect on a very different experience I had when I first heard about Martin Luther King Jr. that reveals some of the hate that contributed to his death. Perhaps you might check it out and comment.

  54. Reblogged this on the ittybitty perspective and commented:
    I couldn’t help but be brought to tears. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a man
    that unfortunately many of us never got to meet, but still holds a big place in our hearts. A man of character, good will, courage, clarity, a dreamer, and a man who took action when others stood still. I will forever be grateful for such a man.

  55. Very new wordpress user here – I….my mouth is agape. Your daughter is incredibly incredibly special – it’s not often that ANYTHING brings tears to my eyes anymore but reading your story of your daughter’s curiosity and humanity and obvious, burgeoning passion to do good certainly did that. Amazing.

  56. Pingback: Stand Up: A Lesson With My Daughter On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. « The World According To Ian

  57. I think MLK was a great man and the reason he is beloved, is because he saw the wasted potential in man. The energy it takes to hate another man, can be used in a positive way… if acceptance is practiced. So have a good MLK Day everyone, and if you are not who you want to be today…it’s a good day to change.

  58. The best thing written on MLK in a long time. He still inspires people to this day. Your daughter is blessed to have a dad like you. I read “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” every year on this day. I wish I had read your essay first today.

  59. Inspiring and beautifully written! She’s a brilliant kid and your post would definitely bring out the best to everybody! I congratulate you for being on Freshly Press!

  60. Well, folks, the comments and everything are finally starting to die down. Being Freshly Pressed has been a wild ride, and I want to thank everyone who commented and liked the post and decided to follow my blog. I’ll do my best to keep things interesting for you all. I’m also going to be going back and looking at some of your blogs as time permits. I hope that I will find some great reading. I’m sure I will. Take care, everyone. See you soon.

  61. Reblogged this on The AP Press and commented:
    Though Martin Luther King Jr. Day was Monday, it’s never too late to celebrate a courageous and inspirational public figure like King. Here’s to hoping more parents have conversations with their children like this about the many courageous figures who have paved the way of justice and freedom for others.

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  65. Wonderful! I really like her determination to stand up for justice and appreciate her frustration over people being killed before they can finish their work. I also think that, “Just because you win the Nobel Peace Prize, it doesn’t mean that someone will want to shoot you.” is an excellent answer because it’s reassuring about her fear, without lying to her saying she will NOT suffer for standing up. There’s some risk, but it’s worth it.

    My 8-year-old made his own board game about Martin Luther King, Jr. It was really educational for him and gave us several opportunities to talk about civil rights issues. This was not the first time; we’ve been talking about it regularly since he was barely 3.

    Regarding exposure to violence: My parents were careful to shelter me from horror movies, cop dramas, etc. but they gradually explained the horrors of real life. By the time I turned 10 I had seen photos of lynchings, police dogs tearing into peaceful protesters, Emmett Till in his coffin, victims of Hiroshima, piles of corpses in concentration camps, children running from My Lai…and decades later just thinking of these things still makes me feel sick, but THAT IS HOW I SHOULD FEEL about these things. My exposure to them did not harm me; it taught me. Being exposed to “entertainment” violence would have taught me something quite different and less valuable. And it’s not that I was just barraged with these images; my parents read me books, watched documentaries with me, and explained solemnly what it was that happened and WHY, what people were thinking when they allowed themselves to do these things. These are hard subjects but well worth addressing with our children. I think you are right to protect your daughter from violence in the media (both fiction and the sensationalized “news” these days) but to let her learn gradually about ideas like people being killed for saying we are all equal and should be kind to one another.

  66. First of all, what a bright young lady you have there. She sounds very mature for an 8 year little girl, you should be beaming with pride.
    Second, I commend you on your parenting skills. She obviously would not have such a good moral compass if not for her parents. Pat yourself on the back sir, you deserve it!

  67. Wonderful post. I enjoyed taking a glimpse at a beautiful father/daughter relationship. Though I sometimes forget, soley relying on schools to educate our children on these important subjects is not enough. Hearing a parent clarify or re-iterate the impact persons or events had on our world goes a long way. On the subject of Martin Luther King, last week I found myself in a similar situation. I sorted through my son’s 1st grade papers. Piles of ‘Cat, hat, pat’s…’, drawings and I happened on his Martin Luther King paper. My son misread the question and instead of writing how he could help people or the world, he wrote 3 things that MLK did to help others (a good portion phonetically spelled :) ;
    – By doing good things
    – By being nice to people
    – Not pushing people of a bus
    (picture link of his paper on my Twitter;

    When I questioned him about his description, particularly the bus incident, he claimed this is what the book said. This prompted me to explain, in my best 1st grade terminology, the facts about the bus, pushing, discrimination and the civil rights movement. His attention span is short so I know this is a discussion I’ll need to have many more times to ensure he truly understands the life and legacy of Martin Luther King.

    All the best to you and your family–

  68. Your daughter reminds me of my eight-year-old sister. I had a very similar discussion with her in the past about Dr. King. It’s one of the best things we sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers can do for children to teach them the mistakes of the past so that they can make better decisions in the future. This was a wonderful post. Thank you very much for your contribution. Peace and much love.

  69. What a lovely daddy-daughter exchange! I also am psyched you gave props to Norman Borlaug. He did good ‘just’ by doing right & launched a Green Revolution that fed starving people worldwide. Plus his mentoring of field workers-turned-scientists made these results sustainable.

    Option: Tell your daughter’s teacher to check out (K-12) for free plant-centric ideas. (Yes, I do work there PT).

  70. Okay it’s not just because I’m black. I think your doing a very good job teaching her the importance of equality. You totally deserve father of the year reward!

  71. this was BEAUTIFUL! for being only 8yrs old and having this mentality, it’s heartwarming. in today’s society, you don’t see that much in our youth. this generation is so dang corrupt and it’s sickening. but your little girl…your little girl gives me hope that there are still good people that when they grow up will make a difference. will mold society into a better place, not the nonsense we have going on now. and as someone who grew up without my dad, i truly commend you. you are teaching her how to be a mature and intelligent human being and i know that good things will come from her.

    thank you so much for sharing this. it even made me teary! =)

    May God Bless You (and your daughter!)

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