MLK Day in context for kids (anytime)

January 18, 2008

This weekend, many ceremonies and lectures will reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. and on the history of African-Americans in general. But it’s hard to bring those alive for kids — youngsters who don’t recognize what to do with a rotary-dial phone are not going to easily connect to someone whose death was a loooong time ago, no matter how worthy he was. In addition, most children need to be introduced to the concepts of fairness and equality in many different ways before they start to sink in.

A very visual way to do that is to visit the Black World History Museum. It’s pretty vivid — a scale-model slave ship that kids can go inside starts things off — but the exhibits also focus a lot on wax figures of people who made a difference by persevering through hardship. Some, like Martin Luther King Jr., are easily recognized. Others are not, including the most recent addition from November of last year, local activity Percy Green II. The private museum continues to grow — another local person, housing advocate Macler Shepard, will be added next year — but slowly, as money for the $15,000 wax characters doesn’t grow on trees.

Still, admission is very reasonable: $3.50 for elders; $5, adults; $4, teens; $2.50 for those under 14. The museum is located at 2505 St. Louis Ave. and hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 314.241.7057.

And it’s not far from Crown Candy Kitchen, 1401 St. Louise Ave., where S. was just introduced to milkshakes by his dad and grandpa. The throwback diner is a good way to get kids in the mood to look at history. For hours, call 314.621.9650.

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