This is a post from 2018
“I have a dream”
Can you hear it?
That unmistakable voice.
Strong, passionate, compelling.
Every time I hear a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King, my skin tingles.
I was 7 when Dr. King was killed. Three years later I was bussed from Hale Elementary (almost all white) 2 miles north to Field Elementary (50% black) as part of a desegregation program to balance out the racial make up of each school. Family’s moved out of the neighborhood, because they didn’t want any part of it. (I didn’t realize that until later in my life in an “A-haa” moment.) It was at Field that I met Cindy. She was black and lived on the north side of Minnehaha Creek, I lived on the south side and we became friends. Cindy came over to play one day after school and as we played kickball in the street it struck me that there weren’t any black people living in my neighborhood. A seed was planted in my heart as I had the thought “that didn’t seem right”. I didn’t know it then, but God was preparing me for the life we would live with the children He would give us.
Jump ahead 18 years to the first time I picked up my baby girl. Nine weeks old, beautiful brown skin and an impressive head of hair. And we started the life of an interracial family. I bought the kids books like “Afro-bets” and “Jambo Mean’s Hello”. We read about Ruby Bridges and Dr. King. We took the kids to Black Nativity every year, and other black plays. On a missions trip to Memphis we visited the National Civil Rights Museum and sat on the bus like Rosa Parks. When Kylie was 4 years old in preschool, MLK Day was being celebrated. Her teacher held up a picture of Martin Luther King and asked: “Who knows who this is?” Kylie was very shy, she didn’t make any noise on purpose if she didn’t have to, but she quickly shot her hand up and said excitedly: “Oh I know! It’s Dr. King!”.
That made this white-mom-raising-black-childen’s heart sing.
If only it was always that easy – read books and talk about what it was like back in “those days” and how important Dr. King was. I brought Kylie to MLK programs that my friend Torrion put on with Burnsville high school students. Poems, dance, music that celebrated Dr. King and African American history. There I stood, holding my little girl in my arms, singing along to “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t live her life, but as her mom I wanted her to know I was with her, I had her back, I was in her corner. And yet – stuff happened. While she was at a pool with her white cousins some kid told her she couldn’t go into the water because she would get it dirty. In her mostly white Sunday School class she misunderstood the lesson and came home saying that “Jesus died for her skin”. You know those bracelets where the black beads represent sin? The list goes on for her and our boys. It’s just the way it is. Sometimes blatant, sometimes hidden, sometimes a misunderstanding, sometimes nothing at all, just love and acceptance.
I’m not very political or much of an activist either. All I know is I’ll try to live my life in a way that reflects the love of Jesus. I will continue to smile at those who don’t look like me. I will hold the door open for someone who doesn’t look like me. Help someone who doesn’t look like me. I will start a conversation while waiting in line with someone who doesn’t look like me. I think that’s something we can all do. One interaction at a time – one person to one person at a time.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction….
Strength To Love
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – 1963
That was beautiful, Julie. Thanks for sharing your heart!
Thanks for writing this Jules and for being a living example to me and others of racial reconciliation.
I am proud of you and our three children and our grandson whom you have loved well and lived well as an example to follow.
Scott (grateful husband, father & grandfather)