Today’s Martin Luther King Jr Day and We Should Remember Why
Martin Luther King day is happening now and it's a blip on the screen of today's topics. Who is Martin Luther King Jr.? Why are we off school because of him? Is it really that important?
I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of today becomes oversaturated within news regarding our polarizing climate around politics. There is NO shortage of news and the cycle is moving fast and hard to keep up with. Martin Luther King Jr Day IS today and it's never been more important to teach our kids about this man.
I Have a Dream Speech
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation/Where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, I have a dream ... I have a dream that one day...little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boy's and white girls as sisters and brothers. - Martin Luther King Jr.
This was one of the most rememberable and impactful speeches of all time. If I shared these words with my four-year-old son Lennox he might ask, "why can't they play together now?" Lennon would no idea why one kid couldn't play with the other one.
The civil rights movement came before me and luckily I didn't live through this terrible time. That said, we're all watching another side of hatred perform second by second in the social stratosphere. While things are much better today we have to ask ourselves, on what scale? How do you measure these "better things?"
It was at that hotel that I visited in Memphis which brought me to silence. This is where MLK was killed by James Earl Ray with one single shot of his rifle. There was something somber about being there where everything is as it was back in 1965.
I was able to visit the grand opening of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. I remember standing watching video surrounded by maybe three people as a presence filled the room. One very large man flanked by two larger men in black suits swiftly moved through the room. One of those men stood in front by himself standing, watching, and crossing his arms in silence. I remember him reaching up to rest his cheeks on his fist with that finger tapping on his chiseled chin. It was the Reverand Jesse Jackson.
I lived in Memphis for a little over a year and witnessed a tragic era plastered everywhere. As a matter of fact, I remember our first Christmas party was hosted at a small barbecue chicken joint. This was a tiny spot, local and old segregation photographs lined the walls like wallpaper. There were photos of "whites only" water fountains and "n-ggers not allowed" signs. I saw photos, news clippings of hangings and burnt down communities.
There was a tremendous amount of time spent on the busiest strip in Memphis called, "Beale Street." You can walk down the middle of these streets on weekends where they're closed off to the public. This is a party avenue for everyone. Beale Street wasn't always like that and you can actually notice where segregation lived on this long block.
I was watching a special about Martin Luther King Jr. and his non-violent movement. The news footage is hard to view but important to understand for all of us. These people were marching for freedom and their lives. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't fight back in the hopes that the world would see how inhumane they were being treated. When you watch the hate it should make you sick to your stomach.
The world was in a bad place and Martin Luther King Jr's assassination was followed by two more that would shake the country (John F. Kennedy Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.) I'm not a history major and really hope I didn't speak to ignorantly. The moral of this blog is to understand that Martin Luther King Jr. lead a movement that we all benefit from today. My first best friend was an African American boy that lived a few houses down from me. We were best buddies and didn't know what racism was. I grew up never knowing until I got older and joined the Navy.
That photo above is from President Nominee Barack Obama at Taco Bell Arena where people started lining up before the sun came up. We've gone from watching a person of color fight for a seat in an all-white restaurant to the most important seat in the country, The Oval Office in the White House.
While the world continues to struggle over racism in our neighborhoods, on the football field, the congressional landscape and in our schools we must prevail because that is the LEAST we can do. Black men and women gave their lives to be treated equally. Think about that? High school students were beaten just for going to school because of the color of their skin.
I don't feel like it's even appropriate to speak about what someone of color must go through today on the daily. You have to understand it wasn't that long ago and your parents might even remember including your grandparents for sure. I'm a white man that will never be able to comprehend what women and people of color feel like. For those reasons I will try not to pretend that I can relate. I can't. I have no idea. When we see another racially motivated murders in America it resonates with the black community in a way I could never understand. I can only teach Lennox and Leo that EVERYONE is created to love each other. No one person is superior over the other and just because you might be a man that doesn't mean you're stronger than a woman. Just because your skin is white that you are no more powerful than a person with a different color. We can only emphasize to speak up and speak out for anyone being singled out due to what they believe or what they look like.
Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. and so many more African Americans that put their lives on the line for freedom. The struggle still continues and it's up all of us to ensure that our kids and their kids keep that very dream alive.
Over 250,000 people showed up to witness the historic, "I have a dream speech."