We Celebrate the Holiday Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring the man who brought us the Civil Rights Movement on January 19th. Martin Luther King Jrs actual birthdate is January 15, 1929.
I am quite reflective as the day approaches us. I was not yet born when King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. I would have felt civilization as we know it was coming to an end, especially since some of our most noted and gifted leaders like John Kennedy, his brother Bobby Kennedy, and Malcolm X were all gunned down only a few years apart. As an American I would have been devastated. I can’t believe anyone was able to go on after such back to back tradegy in this Country. That just shows how strong and courageous American people were especially black Americans.
As human beings they had to endure so much. It’s hard to believe such travesties as not being able to vote, having to sit in the back of the bus, not being able to enter the front doors of hotels or restaurants or even patronage them, or having to drink from different water fountains and different restrooms all together existed. Blacks weren’t even allowed to live on the North side of many U.S. cities. It is unbelieveable to think back on what we as a people went through and how far we’ve come.
That’s a testament to a people. They acknowledged an injustice and fought against it risking their lives and Martin Luther King Jr. was at the helm. They risked being hauled off in trunks of cars and lynched, shot at, attacked by dogs trained to do so, sprayed and knocked down by water hoses, chased and hit with police batons, sticks, and baseball bats, and being spit on. They experienced and went through racism which consisted of physical violence, belittling, humiliation, and death.
I can’t imagine older people who lived through this horror are optimistic and living happy, normal lives such as my parents did. I would have never guessed that they lived through the time period of The Civil Rights Movement that I was reading about in the pages of history books. When I bring these images up older people ask, “Why drudge up such negative thoughts?” I did because I wanted to know more, and then now to remember how hard our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents worked and sacraficed for a better future for themselves and for us.
I need young readers to recognize we didn’t always have video games to play with or couldn’t go to parks and play games at our convenience. We couldn’t always hang out and shop at the mall, there was no Sean John or Baby Phat. I remember when there was a time when black artists couldn’t get played on MTV. I want younger readers to get aware and check their history and stop taking everything for granted and appreciate what they have now. I want young readers of other races and cultures to realize blacks in America had to fight for their rights and were hard working and courageous people!
For me Martin Luther King Jr. impacted my life in so many ways. First of all, I am proud and honored to know that a man stood up against injustice for the good of a people as well as for all mankind. He did not have to bother. In our day and age we can look up to a man who truly made an effort knowing he wasn’t going to get paid or receive a million dollar contract for his works.
I can appreciate this because I cannot stand to be held back, pushed down, or told I can’t. It could be the Pisces(fish) in me, but I need to be able to express myself, to explore, to grow, and to be free. I couldn’t live in a society where I had limitations on education, places I could travel, people who I could make as friends, where I could live, and having to answer to other human beings for my own existence. That would not be living at all. Can you imagine being alive, but not being allowed to live. Martin Luther King Jr. made it possible for Black Americans to “Live Life”.
I was able to go to an integrated school and meet and make friends with children of different races. I was also able to have teachers of all races and that exposed me to other interests and various experiences. I can say I became a well rounded person.
King also enabled me, as well as many others, the right to an education at most institutions that fit the needs or aspirations of the individual, such as a small college vs. large university, a black college, city college, community college, or private institution. We are no longer forced to go to or have limited choices because of the color of our skin, but by the qualifications of an individual based on your own hard work.
I also have the right to vote for decision makers who will impact my life on a local, immediate level and a federal level, which will impact laws, the economy, the environment, and society even on a globally.
We are also able to create goals and know one day you may achieve them. They’re not for someone else, but one can aspire to be most anything.
My Parents were free to be the “Parents” they wanted to be. They were able to work hard and provide for their family to the best of their ability, and have dreams and goals for their children and know it’s not in vain.
Martin Luther King Jr. helped us to live, have happiness, and liberty and justice…what God wanted and preached for the entire human race.
Everything is not perfect. Life on Earth is not perfect. We shouldn’t expect it to be, but we should resolve to do our part in our cities and in our communities to make a difference. If we all do that we can impact the World and the environment in a “Positive” way and keep Dr. King’s Dream alive.
*Recommended Viewing: HBO Films, Boycott starring Jeffrey Wright and Terrence Howard.