On Friday, Grace and I were hanging out in my bedroom. She was home sick with a stomach virus, and I let her climb into my bed to rest. I was surfing on my laptop while sitting against the side of my bed on the floor.
"Mom?" she said, as she sat up a bit to ask her question.
"What can I do for you, honey?" I responded.
"Mom, who is Martin again?" Grace said with a hard emphasis on the "tin" in Martin. She said his name in a way that sounded like she was pronouncing it in German.
Confused I responded, "Saint Martin, Gracie? You know for Saint Martin's Tag?"
"Nut uh. Not him. The one who died. Why did he die?" she replied.
Searching my thoughts, I sifted through my memories for important Martins. "Um, do you mean Martin Luther King?"
"Yes, Mommy. Why did he die?"
"Are you learning about him in school Gracie? His birthday is coming up soon."
"No Mama. I learned about him in K5."
"Oh. Well Gracie, that is kind of a long story. I'll try to tell you the short version. Sound good?"
"Yes, Mama, but why did he die?"
Searching for the right words, I paused for a moment.
"Well, before Mommy was born, there were many people who thought that the color of your skin was very important. A lot of people believed that having white skin was better than brown skin or any other color skin. Martin Luther King, along with some other very smart men and women, helped people to learn that we are all just people. The color of our skin doesn't matter. We all may look different, but we are still just people."
"Uh huh. I know that Mommy," she said with a hint of sarcasm, as in "Duh!" "Like I have blond hair and Rebecca has red hair? We're both still girls, but we look different."
"Exactly Grace," I replied with a heart swelling with pride.
"But why did Mar-TIN die?"
"It was very sad, Grace. A man who didn't like what Martin was teaching used a gun to shoot him. He died and went to Heaven. It was so sad, but many people still are learning from what he said then. That is the special part of Dr. King."
A look of concern showed on her face as she said, "Did he see the man who shot him?"
"No honey. He didn't see the man."
"Oh. It's okay, though. He went to Heaven and he got to see his family who died before he did. His family will see him again in Heaven when they die."
"You are so smart, Grace."
Grace placed her head back down on my pillow, and let her thoughts drift to another subject.
The profoundness of Grace's belief system astounds me. She is destined for great things, and I'm so glad that she doesn't allow color or any other physical feature define the goodness or badness of a person.
I suppose that is the bias of her proud Mama, though. ;)