My kids came home from school on Friday with stories of MLK, reciting portions of his speeches, and information about segregation. Ella even checked out Martin Luther King, Jr.: Young Man with a Dream from her school library. I ended up ignoring my kids as I pounded through the book on Friday night. While it doesn't give the most rounded view of his life, it does have good information. The first three chapters describe Dr. King's past and how he's the descendant of slaves, sharecroppers, and farmers. To learn about his ancestors, I wanted my kids to see what it meant to be a slave in the United States. On Saturday we headed to the African Burial Ground and Visitors Center to gain perspective of their lives.
Approximately 15,000 free and enslaved Africans were buried in the six acre memorial ground in lower Manhattan. It was lost due to landfill and development, and rediscovered in 1991 during the construction of a Federal office building. It’s the largest colonial-era cemetery for enslaved Africans. They later built a memorial to honor the men, woman, and children who were buried here. Here are some of the pictures I took at the visitors center.
We quickly walked to Thomas Paine Park to view the monument Triumph of the Human Spirit. It is dedicated to all the unknown enslaved Africans brought to this country. The mood is lighter at this public park--filled with tourists, locals walking their dogs, and skateboarders. It gave my kids a chance to get their wiggles out. Turns out I needed to run around, too. I'm so happy Kendra captured the moment.
Pictures of the burial grounds, my kids, and a rare one of me after the jump.
Below are pictures from Thomas Paine Park.
While I'm doing all this to teach my kids, I find myself being deeply affected. Over the past week, I've done research for a MLK book roundup and a post with ideas to celebrate his life. Along the way, I've read many MLK quotes that are as relevant today as they were in the 1960's. These resonated with me:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
Powerful. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr.!