Dr. Martin Luther King Through Kindergarten Eyes

I meant to post this last year, but I forgot. This is a picture that my daughter made in kindergarten. I found it in with some papers when I was cleaning her room and it just struck me right between the eyes. First, I thought it was all wrong: “What is that school teaching my daughter about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? I mean, she took away his whole essence, she’s stripped away his race, she’s missed the whole point …”

Picture my 6 year old daughter colored of Martin Luther King, Jr.

But my next thought was, “She made the picture to look like, well … it looks kind of like she looks, that’s why it has the light skin and blue eyes — she thinks of him as being just like her.” And that’s what I like about it. To her he’s a human being and a leader and to kids that age, in this day and age I think maybe race is irrelevant. When I was a kid the thing for me about MLK was his African-Americanness, or as we would say in those days, his “blackness.” I’m proud that my now 8 year old daughter thinks of him first about what he has done, his faith, his leadership and his humanity. In other words she is judging him “by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin.” Yeah, that’s an intentional paraphrase. Anyway, that’s what I like about it.

We’ll be at the march Monday, as we have been most years that little girl has been around. Here’s the schedule of Duluth MLK events, I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to join us. We’ll be the ones handing out a thick stack of “Love Wins” stickers courtesy of our friends at Hillside Church.

I’d love some discussion on this just be a little gentle … this is my kid we’re talking about.



about 12 years ago

I read a children's book about MLK last year for the holiday, and foolishly failed to warn my kids about how it would end. After learning about what a good person he was, they were a little traumatized when he was shot to death.
I like your daughter's picture!

Bad Cat!

about 12 years ago

What a great story - thank you for sharing it!

David Grizzly Smith

about 12 years ago

I think your interpretation is probably true.  I hope it is.

Your child is lucky enough to be part of a generation where she may never "get" the part where the color of his skin is supposed to matter, and may, one hopes, finally discover why he was killed and be stuck dumb by how little sense such a differentiation makes.  "Because his skin was a different color?  That's just weird."  Yeah.  Exactly.

Sun Dog

about 12 years ago

When my daughter was in Kindergarten she drew a picture of herself with brown skin. Most of her classmates were Native American, so I think she saw everyone grabbing the brown for "flesh" color and she did the same. 

(In real life she looked like a little porcelain doll with blond hair and white skin. In fact, at a her 6 year-old birthday party a little Native American girl gave a little dollar store porcelain doll head with blond hair as a gift, probably because she saw the resemblance.) 

So kids "see" and they don't "see."

Your daughter's drawing kind of reminds me of the black Jesus paintings. I must admit, I had never seen a white MLK drawing.

The Big E

about 12 years ago

I found this was intriguing.  On the one hand, one might be troubled by reducing a complex, human, and yet really heroic figure like Martin King to something between Martin Luther Potato-Head and Pilgrim Guy with Buckle on Hat.  On the other hand, I'm sure that zombie J. Edgar Hoover is clutching his pearls in horror at the notion of a generation of children for whom King is one of the unchallenged core members of the American pantheon, which is quite delicious.


about 12 years ago

"... a generation of children for whom King is one of the unchallenged core members of the American pantheon, which is quite delicious."

I love it, Big E.

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