I waited until today to write this message, 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Jacqueline Smith has been standing outside the civil rights museum for 30 years protesting it's existence. She believes it's taking away from people's jobs and it should be a working hotel like it used to be. She said we shouldn't live in the past and it's too painful to see.
I stood there with a black woman and a young white boy who may have been 12 or 13 years old. The black woman next to me was arguing her point of how important it is to have this museum. She said racism is still here and people need to see what could happen, what black people fought for and how we're still fighting some of the same battles today.
I observed quietly listening to everyone's point of view. The black woman asked Jacqueline if she has ever been inside? She said no. We both look at each other and chuckle. I said how can you say all these things and you've never been inside? Jacqueline says, she doesn't need to because she can look at pictures on the internet. We both said, no it's different when you walk inside. The @ncrmuseum did an amazing job educating people and keeping MLK Jr's spirit alive.
The young white boy said, "my daddy raised me to be racist and told me I can't have black friends." I stood there shocked and frozen for a moment for what I just heard. He continued and said, "but I said no. I told my Daddy I want to have black friends and I wanted to come here to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. I'm glad this museum is here, we need to have this here to teach people." Still shocked by what this young boy said yet impressed he took the initiative to stand up to his daddy's ways and wanted to come to the museum to educate himself. He walked out of that museum humbled.
We all walked away from the conversation as we all agreed to disagree. I had a moment to speak with the young boy and told him I was proud he came here. He said to me that they don't teach the civil rights movement in his school. I said your daddy can have his views but you don't have to. He smiled and agreed and reiterated how important this place is.