19 Jan
2015
Posted in: travel
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Take a Trip: Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

I knew when we walked in the door and were greeted by two signs: white and colored, this historical site wouldn’t be like any we’d taken our children to before. We were on our way home from vacation in Illinois in July and stopped in Topeka, Kansas at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. We try not to shy away from tough conversations with our kids, but our conversation about segregation while at that place is one of the toughest topics I’ve ever covered with my children.

Quote about segregation at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Historic sites are nothing new to our kids. We try to visit as many National Park Service sites as possible when we travel. We prep the kids about what they’re likely to hear and see. We discussed the phrase “separate, but equal,” and its part in the history of our public education system. I thought we were prepared. I was wrong.

Boy watching video at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is powerful. The number of exhibits is small compared to other sites, but they are mighty. The large black and white photos and videos of people declaring their rights loomed over us. We would read a placard. The kids would ask a question. We would answer. They would say, “But why?” This scenario repeated over and over. They think about the people they know and friends they share their days with, and cannot fathom a time like what they were watching as they walked the halls of that old brick building.

Large, historic desegregation photo at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

We stopped in what was once a kindergarten room in that historic school and watched our children play side-by-side with children that didn’t share the same color of skin. The other mom and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. There are times I wish my heart was tougher than it is. Then there are times like that moment when I’m grateful for my soft heart and feelings that just won’t be held back. The tears still come each time I think about those shared peaceful minutes in that place watching children play in the sand.

That moment and countless more I never give a passing thought to, were fought hard and long for. I continue to be grateful for those people who give all that they have, sometimes even their life, for the greater good of their nation and world. Today our thoughts surrounded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thank you for being brave enough to stand and speak. My two favorite quotes from Dr. King follow:

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


 

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