Discrimination, equality, dignity, and justice are abstract, intangible concepts, and some would say that they are beyond the reach of small children — completely inaccessible to the sippy cup and board book set. But these concepts are significant in our discussions during Black History Month.
But story is an effective conveyance of meaning and The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Story of Rosa Parks (Worthy Press, 2017) have anchored these abstract concepts in the bedrock of real situations with vivid pictures that bring them to life.
Concrete descriptions of discrimination are given context against familiar backdrops: restaurants and schools, water fountains and crowded buses all serve to remind us of the importance of remembering during Black History Month.
While it is true that some of the story details around dates and places will be lost on the tiniest story lovers, astute parents will explain what Rosa did when she worked as a “seamstress,” and that the day Martin spoke to a crowd of “more than 200,000 people,” he was talking to the number of people who live in a medium-sized city. They will share the fact that this February would have been Rosa’s 104th birthday — that if Martin had lived, he would be the age of a very old grandpa.
Set within the narrative arc of a key historical figure’s life, justice looks like fairness – a concept near and dear to the heart of every child. Intangible virtues of vision and courage are filled up with meaning by stories of a quiet woman stepping out of her comfort zone and into danger, and a small boy imagining what it would be like to eat at any restaurant or to drink from any water fountain.
And in this tumultuous year of devastating news and untethered violence, parents can use a dose of unquenchable optimism portrayed in short stories that transport us back to our history of hope.
We all need the reminder that Rosa and America did win. Martin’s dream did flourish. His hopes saw daylight, and because of the bold actions of those who ushered in the civil rights movement, we celebrate all of their accomplishments.
Black History Month marks our resolve that America must continue to win Rosa’s fight for equality, dignity, and justice. All that has been accomplished in the past pours meaning into the challenge for renewed vision.
Remembering and sharing stories of courage and commitment reinforces — with urgency — the conviction that Martin’s dream must live on.
Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 27 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. She blogs at Living Our Days because “the way we live our days will be, after all, the way we live our lives.”