ST. PETERSBURG — Standing at just above four feet with silky brown skin and twisted locks, a second grader, Kenadi Smith, attended the annual Candlelight Vigil honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum last Sunday.
This was a familiar event for her. She goes every year. Previously, she sat in the middle of the room. With a clearer perspective and a closer seat, she positioned her favorite doll to see the spectacular performance of two young African-American divas—Maya Stevenson and Aleisha Mandela—and The Florida Orchestra.
As she pulled out her writing pad to interpret the evening through her eyes from the third row, she drew what seemed to be the only performer, a woman violinist. Although this musician was surrounded by an all-white male ensemble, sending soothing sounds through the air, Kenadi sketched one performer. She was brown; a shade she was familiar with. Yes, through her eyes, she was just as perfect as her doll, as herself, as this moment.
She learned of Dr. King’s sacrifices from her parents, in school and even trips to Atlanta when she visits the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. On Sunday evening, all of her teachings came into practice. Locked hand in hand with strangers and melting into a crowd of different races, Kenadi sang verses of the Civil Rights Movement anthem “We Shall Overcome.”
She hasn’t been on this earth long enough to have experienced sanctioned racial segregation. Yes, through her eyes, this is how it should be: love, peace, unity and harmony.