Teddy’s first MLK Jr Day


We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day

Deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day 

The last time I sang this song, I was swaying in a pew in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, one arm entwined with Mike’s and the other with my pew-mate. And I felt completely out of place. A white girl singing “We Shall Overcome” in a black baptist church? Yeah, that did not feel right.

I sang this song again yesterday afternoon. This time I was holding my son and standing with Mike in a rather diverse crowd in Washington National Cathedral for a concert/service to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. It wasn’t nearly so awkward this time. It also helped that we sang multiple verses. I didn’t know there were multiple verses. But I could relate to a couple of them. We’ll walk hand in hand, we shall live in peace, we are not afraid, all these a white girl can sing alongside her fellow black audience members and not feel weird.

This concert was our first tiny step in introducing Teddy to his African-American heritage — and putting ourselves in an environment where, despite the diversity, we were still in the minority. We initially wanted to volunteer at an MLK service project (our city has several) but decided that it would be easier on all of us if we waited until Teddy was a bit older. We found this concert and decided it would be a good first event for Teddy: Mike and I could enjoy it while simply holding him and who knew, maybe Teddy would like the music.

When we first arrived, Teddy was actually asleep in his car seat, prompting Mike and I to have a brief discussion: should we let him sleep (he’s not the greatest napper in the world, after all) or wake him up? We decided we had to wake him up. This was his first foray into his culture. Whether he enjoyed the music or not, he had to at least be awake for it!

We missed the Malcolm X dancers and drummers and a spoken-word artist and poet (I was pretty bummed about that–I love spoken-word performances) but got there in time for the CityDance Conservatory dancers singing Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” (MJ songs featured several times during this concert). The WPAS Children of the Gospel Choir was wonderful, although we kept saying to each other there was no way they were “children,” unless “children” just means “under 18.” Some of them looked like older teens and had amazing voices. The Urban Nation H.I.P.-H.O.P. Choir closed out the concert with several songs, including MJ’s “Freedom Has Come,” during which Teddy was standing and chatting.

We think he liked it =)


About savoringeverymoment

I'm a grammar geek (I'm firmly on the side of the serial comma), the wife of a baseball fanatic, and the mama of two delightful, rambunctious children. I live in the nation's capital and attend a church where all are welcome and encouraged to use their gifts and talents.

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