Let us eat cake
“Oh yes,” said Peanut. “It is somebody’s birthday.”
“That’s right,” I said, smiling at her. “Do you know whose?”
“Somebody’s king,” she said, rolling her eyes to the ceiling to think. “A king of something.”
“Close – Martin Luther King, Jr. We have a holiday to honor him. Do you know why?”
She shook her head.
I launched into a discussion of dark skin and light skin, and of laws that used to say people of different skin colors couldn’t drink from the same water fountain, or attend the same schools.
She listened raptly. “Tell me more about that,” she asked.
I explained how people — lead by Dr. King — fought against those laws. How Dr. King stood up and talked and got people to listen. How he led the country to slowly change.
She sat transfixed.
“What do you think of all that?”
“It’s not fair,” she said. “It’s not fair that people couldn’t do the same things. Why was that?”
Taking a deep breath I carefully explained how some people with light skin thought they were better than people with dark skin.
“That’s wrong,” she said breathlessly.
“It is. It’s so wrong. But things are changing. This week this country will have the very first president with dark skin.”
“Barack Obama!” she interjected excitedly.
“That’s right! And he made it to president because of the bravery of Martin Luther King. Only about 50 years ago, Barack Obama wouldn’t be able to eat in the same restaurant as us in some states, but on Tuesday he’ll be our president. What do you think about that?”
“That’s really cool.”
“Can we have a cake tomorrow for the birthday?”
“Maybe,” I said.
My children are growing up in a country that has elected a black president. They will never sit around wondering if it will happen. It has happened. They will never think, "not in my lifetime," as I once skeptically did.
Tomorrow we will watch the inauguration. I will probably cry tears of joy - heart swelling with pride as a long-overdue realization of Dr. King's dream finally occurs.
We did not have cake today, simply because I spent the day at the office and they the day sledding with their father and friends. But I think tomorrow we will.
I feel like celebrating.