So, Walker came home from school recently and started talking about Martin Luther King. Apparently we saw him one time when we went somewhere together. But that’s not all he knows about MLK. His teachers have been talking a lot about Dr. King and what he stands for and I got to see what a huge impression his teachings can make on a community — even when that community is under the age of 5.
Last Friday was the Pacific Primary Peace Parade celebrating the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Families were encouraged to participate so Larry, Aunt Hilary (a Pacific Primary Alum), Grammie Jane and I crammed into the Rainbow Dolphin classroom with another 50 or so people to help the kids get ready for the big march. All the kids had made peace crowns, necklaces and signs and we had a massive Circle Time where teacher Jaime asked the kids to remind us all what King taught us. “No hitting,” declares Walker. “No biting,” “No spitting,” “No fighting,” other kids contribute. And Jaime asks what we should do instead of these things?
“Use your words.”
“Go to the Peace Place and solve the problem.”
(The Peace Place is a special process the kids use when they have a problem like two kids wanting to play with the same toy — they have to stop, state the problem and then discuss options until they can agree on a solution. It’s amazing to watch these four year olds resolve differences better than most adults.)
Once it was clear the kids truly understood what this parade was all about, they practiced their chant they would share with the rest of the school — “Martin Luther King was a good, good man and a good, good man was HE. He was a teacher, a preacher, a man of power who worked hard for YOU and ME!”
The kids were ready and we joined the other 200 Pacific Primary kids, parents and staff for the walk. It sounds corny and a bit stereotypical for a preschool in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury to have a Peace Parade but I am not a skilled enough writer to communicate the feeling I had watching these kids celebrate the teachings of a man who died the year before I was born. It’s so easy to get caught up in the history and the complexities of the time but at its essence it is very simple. Dr. King thought things were unfair and he used his words to drive change. And if the parade didn’t have enough of an impact, we all reconvened in the courtyard and listened to the last three minutes of the “I Have a Dream” speech.
Then we sang Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King and had popsicles.
Thank you Pacific Primary for making such a special and memorable experience.