Letters from the editors, MLK Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968 at the age of 39, in Memphis Tennessee. This year he would have celebrated 83 years.

I first became aware of color in the world on an MLK Jr. Day way back during the fourth grade. Our teacher was showing a video on the projector to the class about Dr. King, who he was, and what he did to have a the day after his birthday recognized as a national holiday. Growing up in schools and neighborhoods occupied mostly by the fairer skinned race, it never dawned on me that I stood out from the other kids. There was never an emphasis put on the matter, so it slipped by rather unnoticed until then. The struggles, the injustices, the brutal epithets tossed around, were all part of a grappling introduction to the real world. After that, everything in my gaze was subjected to scrutiny. Every person was designated a color they had to live with, and as I grew up, I learned how people of different colors interacted, and did my best to conform the way I saw fit. Fast forward 10 years or so, and I find that I’ve long since given up trying to conform. There’s only one person I’m any good at being. Dr. King longed for the day when everyone would have equal rights, and I believe he would be proud of the progress we have made since then, but equal rights and truly being equal are night and day.

~ Jack

Every year on this day, I think back to times of distress for African Americans. Images flood my brain of the water fountains and bathrooms grimly labelled “colored.” Monochrome stills of Black protesters being assaulted with high-powered fire hoses in public streets flash through my mind. Haunting visions of Ku Klux Klan mobs burning down African American homes and churches. No matter how hard I try to rejoice and celebrate the birth and life of Dr. King, I often find myself reverting back to these nightmarish times for my race. This day is a sobering reminder of how things used to be and how much I’ve benefited from the bravery of remarkable leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. While watching documentaries I am astonished at his patience, servanthood, self-control and determination. Only a select few dare to step out of line and change the world. King was burdened with a dream he only lived to initiate, and now that we’ve reached 2012, I often wonder what he would think today. I’m sure that he would be filled with joy to see a Black man serving as Commander in Chief of this nation. I am certain that he would wear a smile every time he walked into schools and neighborhoods and saw kids of all races laughing and playing together, or when he ate at a restaurant and was able to sit in the main dining area while being served with respect and dignity. I believe he would feel good about the strides that have been made, but I highly doubt that he would be satisfied. He would not turn a blind eye to the education and employment gaps that minorities face today. Dr. King might be unsettled to see the percentages of our young men that fill the jails and prisons. Even at 83, he would be a prominent figure in societal issues, sharing the gospel and championing the efforts of minorities and equality. Could you imagine if he was still here? What would the world look like if his life had not been taken while standing on that balcony?

Happy Birthday to a true King and Servant – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

~ D. Jeralds

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