The annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration at Liberty Community Children’s Center on Friday included a cake, a story, music and a “World House.”
Todd Miller, executive director of the Delaware County Habitat for Humanity, read a storybook to the children, who were 2 to 4 years old. Each year, Liberty invites a special guest to speak to the children about King.
The story said that as a youngster, King was told he could no longer play with his white friends. He couldn’t understand why the color of his skin mattered, the story said.
Miller read King’s famous quote of “a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” He told the children that meant the kind of person they were.
The story went on to say that King led many peaceful protests and marches for freedom, and that although he was no longer alive, his ideas live on.
One child said that King was shot, and Miller said that it was because some people are afraid of changes.
“Now we can play together, go to the same schools and live in the same neighborhood,” Miller said.
Miller had a couple of children come up to break sticks. The single sticks represented being separate and apart. He had some other sticks that were tied together, and they were harder to break.
“When we all come together united, we’re a lot stronger and unbreakable,” Miller said.
A wall in the daycare center’s gym contained maps, and pictures of groups of the children. These were part of what was called a “World House,” based on a quote from King.
“We have inherited a large house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together — black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu — a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace,” King said.
Different classroom groups of children paid tribute to King through the arts. One group, the Caterpillars, played “violins” made of empty tissue boxes, paint-stirring sticks and rubber bands. Also sung were “Freedom, Freedom Let It Ring” and “We Shall Overcome,” and a poem was read.
A birthday cake, donated by Kroger, was brought into the room, with children and staff forming a circle around it. Miller blew out the candles, and the children enjoyed the cake.
“Our goal is to express harmony, togetherness, unity and equality to honor Dr. MLK’s Jr. dream,” said Liberty’s staff in a written statement.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.