People all over the world will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s 81st birthday this weekend with ceremony and service, but only in Atlanta can dozens of kids celebrate with birthday cake and a story read by King’s older sister, Christine King Farris.
Kids from pre-school to third grade gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site this morning to see a puppet show about how life has changed for black children since King was a boy, and to hear “My Brother Martin.” (Teachers went home with free copies of the book for their classrooms or libraries, too.)
The kids asked a lot of questions that remind how time and history look different when you’re a kid: What happened to Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents? Do his kids live with his sister? Was he a slave?
The very first question, though, was repeated over and over: Why did Dr. Martin Luther King die? It’s hard to make sense of it when you’re young. Farris King and Park rangers agreed that it’s hard when you’re older, too.
Farris King ended her reading with a poem about her brother’s intelligence, hard work and big dreams. She asked the kids to say the refrain with her.
You can be like Martin, yes you can. You can be like Martin, yes you can.
She kept on them till they were screaming it: “You can be like Martin, yes you can.”
“And you believe that.”
Want to go? Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site has several events and tours to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Free. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, 450 Auburn Ave., Atlanta. 404-331-5190, www.nps.gov/malu.